Wednesday, 17 October 2018
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Governors-General Pension Scheme
That the Senate—
(b) notes that the Prime Minister will be issuing a formal apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse on Monday, 22 October 2018;
(c) expresses concern that there are currently no mechanisms within the Governor-General Act 1974 to cease the pensions or ongoing payments to former Governors-General where such a payment is no longer in the interest of the public, for instance when unconscionable or illegal behaviour is committed; and
(d) calls on the Prime Minister to introduce a bill to amend the Governor-General Act 1974 to include provisions to cease ongoing payments to former Governors-General where such a payment is not in the interest of the public, or amend the criteria under Section 4 of the Act dictating the terms and eligibility of ongoing payments to former Governors-General.
We understand and empathise with the motivations behind this motion. However, at the same time, we must be very careful in relation to any decision we make in relation to the position of the Governor-General, the highest office of our land. We must be very careful not to make decisions which inappropriately undermine the independence of that very high office. Benefits under the Governors-General Pension Scheme are governed by the Governor-General Act 1974. There is no provision under that act for the government or another authority to take a decision to cancel a former Governor-General's pension. The government is not proposing to amend that act.