Ex-MPs in Castle like court challenge over perks
FOUR Federal MPs who used the same section of the Australian Constitution as was cited on behalf of the Kerrigans in the hit move The Castle have lost a High Court challenge to keep their gold travel passes.
The former Liberal defence minister John Moore, who served under John Howard teamed up with ex-Labor MPs Barry Cohen, Barry Cunningham and Anthony Lamb to claim their entitlement had not been taken "on just terms."
The section upon which the case relied was the same on as was used in The Castle - Section 51 (xxxi) - which relates to the Commonwealth government's legal power to compulsorily acquire property.
The section in question states the Federal Parliament has the power to make laws which involve: "the acquisition of property on just terms from any … person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws."
The MPs employed top Victorian QC Allan Myers and another barrister Thomas Prince to make their claim which was shut down in a judgment from the full bench of the High Court today.
The life gold pass entitlement was introduced in 1981 but has since been wound back, following a number of decisions from Parliament.
The High Court's judgment rested on the reasoning that the entitlement did not amount to property owned by the MPs and therefore did not have to be taken justly.
"The entitlement is a "right" created by statute that was and remains inherently liable to variation," reasoned High Court judge Michelle Gordon.
"Not only did the "right" remain inherently liable to variation; its content depended on the will, from time to time, of the legislature that created the "right".
"It was, at best, a right to receive whatever level of benefit was provided from time to time. That "right" was not property protected from acquisition by s 51(xxxi)."
Or in simple terms the vibe of the thing means entitlements taxpayers fund for people who served in parliament aren't something ex-pollies actually own and can be taken away if the new pollies decide that's what people want.
And to add insult to injury the ex-MPs will now have to foot the cost of their legal challenge.