Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Howard defends G-G's perks

Prime Minister John Howard says Peter Hollingworth is entitled to a lifetime pension of more than $180,000 a year, despite resigning from the position of governor-general.

Dr Hollingworth is expected to receive a yearly pension plus benefits worth thousands of dollars.

At the Prime Minister's discretion, Dr Hollingworth will have access to an office and full-time assistant; domestic air and train travel for official purposes, a car and driver or a self-drive vehicle, and access to a car pool in other cities; and an unlimited supply of journals and newspapers and overseas travel.

The Opposition says the package is too generous.

Mr Howard has told Southern Cross Radio it would be petty to argue Dr Hollingworth should receive less because he did not serve his full five-year term.*

"Once you start dividing it and pro rataing according to the number of years they've served, you are sort of arguing over a pinhead in a way," he said.

Indeed, there have been many divided arguments about the way this particular mitred pinhead failed in his duty of care over a number of years as Archbishop of Brisbane.

I presume that people (I believe they are called "clients" nowadays) receiving Social Security payments will become beneficiaries of the Prime Minister's new found largesse. Quibbles over a dollar here and a dollar there, pro rata this, pro rata that, cross that "t", dot that "i", lift that bail, get a little drunk and you'll land in jail will be all things of the past.

The gainfully unemployed will have their 6 week holiday packages to the Gold Coast reinstated. (*It would be petty to argue that the unemployed should receive less because they left their jobs voluntarily and prematurely.) Single mothers will no longer be burnt at the stake. The streets will flow with milkshakes and honey courtesy of the "Mandy Vanstone Bespoke Catering Service and Soup Kitchen". O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Right on John, let's hear no more of pinheads and petty penny pinching. Pension entitlements are matters close to the heart of all politicians and we don't want no thin edge of the wedge precedents do we?

It's a long way to Tipperary Pete and an even longer way from your Brotherhood of St Lawrence day's dedicated to the poor and downtrodden.

Time to move on. The long and windy road to Damascus has many shortcuts.

Might I be churlish enough to note that, true to form, our John was happy to bask in the kudos when most people (there were some who had reservations about the division of Church and State) thought the Prime Minister's personal appointment was all apple pie and cream.

Come the merde hitting the fan, the previously unilateralist John was quick to give up the names of his Cabinet co-conspirators. Singing is an endearing quality in a Prime Minister ... and canaries.

Editor's note: I think Mr Howard is quite correct. Mr Hollingworth must continue to live in the manner to which he's become accustomed...that being lots of tiny little perks and lots of perky little tinies.