What can prime ministers claim once they’re out of the top job?
What can prime ministers claim once they’re out of the top job?

Turnbull’s lush post-PM benefits

WHETHER you love them or hate them, it's hard to envy the job of a prime minister.

All the backstabbing. All the abuse you cop from the public. Having to fake-smile at colleagues in Parliament House corridors when there's always a good chance someone is plotting a coup against you.

But perhaps one thing that keeps our nation's leaders soldiering on is the thought of all those sweet, sweet perks upon their release into the wild.

The current salary for a sitting prime minister sits at $527,852. But what happens when they leave parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull is entitled to up to three new advisers, fully-stocked office accommodation, generous superannuation benefits and a helluva lot of free travel in life post-parliament.

The Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act of 2002 allows former prime ministers who have left parliament to receive "a number of facilities at the discretion of the prime minister of the day".

These include car costs and office entitlements, such as office establishment and lease costs, smartphones, stationery and publications.

It also allows them to expense "non-commercial" domestic and family travel.

This all lasts until they die.

Spouses or de facto partners of former PMs can also claim a number of entitlements when their partner dies.

The Life Gold Pass was originally created in 1918 to provide rail travel for MPs. By the early 1990s, however, it had grown into an uncapped entitlement for ex-MPs and their spouses.

But whether Mr Turnbull actually uses it is another question. In February last year, he announced he would axe the Life Gold Pass for all MPs except former prime ministers, telling The Australianit was "out of line with community expectations".

"At a time when many Australian families are doing it tough, the Life Gold Pass can't be justified," he said. "We have to spend taxpayers' money as prudently and frugally as if it were our own."

He announced that he himself would not use it upon leaving the top job. This is reasonable to believe, considering that in June, it was revealed Mr Turnbull donated the equivalent of his full $528,000 annual salary to charity.

It's yet to be seen if he does the same with his pension.

However, we do know Mr Turnbull's annual pension will not be as hefty as his predecessors', thanks to a change to the superannuation scheme for members of parliament introduced under the Howard Government.

In 2004, John Howard created the Parliamentary Superannuation Bill, which stipulated that those who entered after that year would be subjected to a standard superannuation scheme.

Those who entered parliament before 2004 would still receive the six-figure pension sum of the old model upon retiring.

In 2015 following his ousting, Fairfax determined Tony Abbott would slide away with an annual pension of $307,542.

The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Howard, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd are enjoying more than $200,000 a year in pensions and perks, while Paul Keating is pocketing around $140,000 a year - not including their estimated extra $300,000 to maintain a staffed office and travel costs.

But Mr Turnbull, having been elected to the seat of Wentworth in October 2004, will be subjected to the same superannuation scheme as everyone else, where people earning under $300,000 are taxed at 15 per cent, while those earning over that threshold are taxed at 30 per cent.