Politicians lock in pensions
THE decision by Premier Anna Bligh to hold off on the election until after February 7 has given 13 state MPs, including Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, access to generous payouts for life.
With the election certain to be held after their eighth year in office, the 13 MPs qualify for between $65,000 and $100,000 a year for life, based on their current salary.
The scheme was phased out after 2004.
Mr Messenger, who is now 49, said Ms Bligh had control over the timing of the election.
"I would have preferred to have it a year ago so we could have got rid of a tired, corrupt government," he said.
Mr Messenger said the conditions under which he was appointed an MP were available on the parliamentary website and accessible by the public.
"That's one of the things about being open and accountable," he said.
Mr Messenger, who will contest the election, said he did not have a plan B if he lost.
And he is tipping an election to be held before the end of February.
"I think Bligh will be very reluctant to go back to parliament and expose herself to questions about the latest health blunder," he said.
Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey, who is 46, was elected in 2006, after changes were made to the pension scheme.
This means he will have to wait until he is 65 before he can access it.
But he said yesterday he went into politics knowing the arrangements.
"I had a successful career in the police, and I knew I had to resign, I knew I was married with five kids, and I knew I wouldn't get any pension in the near future," he said.
"I made my decision because I really wanted to see change in the electorate."
Mr Dempsey said the decision to hold off on the election until after February 7 ensured the pensions of MPs who were retirees or in marginal seats.
"The majority of people in the electorate don't think it's right," he said.
Mr Dempsey said he thought the whole issue of remuneration for MPs should be looked at.
"We have to ensure it's not just the party faithful who are coming through. We need to get champions for their communities," he said.
Since election campaigns have to run for 26 days and the election has to be on a Saturday, the earliest date one can be held now is on February 11.