FORMER treasurer Joe Hockey’s age of entitlement isn’t over if he accepts a new role as an Australian diplomat because he can double dip into his political pension and earn over $450,000-a-year.
As Treasurer he railed against “double dipping’’ by mothers who claimed both paid maternity leave from the government and employers.
But it’s an option that may soon be available to him if he chooses to take a part pension to top up his $360,000-a-year salary as Australia’s next ambassador to the US.
If he does, Mr Hockey will secure more money in his new gig than he was paid as Treasurer. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to formally announce his new diplomatic appointment, an open secret in Canberra, shortly.
Mr Hockey enjoyed a salary of $365,868-a-year as Treasurer but his pay was slashed to $200,000 after he lost his job in the leadership coup and then declined a frontbench role.
In his new job, Mr Hockey will earn over $360,000 as a public servant and live rent free as well.
And he could also choose to claim a portion of his $180,000-a-year political pension as a “top up” to his actual salary as Australia’s ambassador to the US.
Joe Hockey received $365,868 per year when he was treasurer.
He could also take it as a lump sum. Federal MPs lose 50c in the dollar from their annual parliamentary super incomes if they hold a diplomatic post with the Commonwealth Government.
That suggests Mr Hockey could enjoy up to $90,000-a-year as a pension “top-up’’ to his job as a diplomat. That would deliver a combined annual income of $450,000.
The former Treasurer will also live rent-free at the official residence, a sprawling mansion on Cleveland Avenue, with personal staff.
In his last budget as Treasurer, Mr Hockey also signed off on $236.9 million allocation upgrade to the US embassy in Washington.
On Friday, the current US ambassador signed off warning that Australia has been doing foreign affairs “on the cheap” for decades.
Mr Hockey’s good luck is that he joined the old parliamentary superannuation scheme before it was changed by John Howard.
The former SA Premier Mike Rann accepted a pay cut after it was revealed he was enjoying a $500,000 salary because a “loophole’’ allowed him to claim both his pension and his salary.
As High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Rann was earning up to $276,000 a year from the Federal Government, as well as collecting $208,000 a year from a State Parliamentary super scheme.
The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to stipulate the salary for his new role but confirmed the pay level starts at $360,000.
“The current Ambassador’s salary and allowances are provided at the Australian Public Service SES Band 3 level,’’ a DFAT spokesman said.
“The official Residence is subject to normal repairs and maintenance activities to preserve the utility, operational effectiveness and capital value of the asset. The residence underwent a major refurbishment in 2004-05. There are no plans for further renovation of the residence. The residence employs staff to support the representative functions of the embassy.’’