Senator Rachel Siewert will today introduce a private members bill that amends the Governor-General Act 1974 to stop paying standard allowances to former Governors-General, and their spouses, where they have engaged in serious misconduct.
“Under the current legislative framework, a former Governor-General or their spouse will continue to receive retirement allowances worth millions of dollars, even where they have engaged in serious misconduct including conviction and imprisonment for a crime,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services said.
“This represents a clear oversight in legislation that should be rectified.
“The bill outlines that serious misconduct also includes an omission to act. I think it is significant that we include an omission to act in the definition of serious misconduct because it sends a clear signal to people in power that the cover up of abuse and illegal behaviour is never acceptable.
“This bill aims to introduce accountability and transparency to the expenditure of public money for the payment of pensions and allowances to former Governors-General. It is important that people who hold public office are held accountable.
“Our efforts to introduce accountability mechanisms to these allowances have been championed by the work of abuse survivors and their advocates.
“Last year, a coalition of groups wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to amend the Act to cease payment of public money to former Governors-General.
“This group included Bravehearts, the Blue Knot Foundation, Care Leavers Australasia Network, End Rape on Campus, Beyond Abuse and the Queensland Child Sexual Abuse Legislative Reform Council.
“This bill represents an important step towards redress for the survivors of abuse. It sends a clear message that no one is above the law and abusers and those who protect abusers must be held accountable.
“I urge the Parliament to consider this bill, not only from a public accountability perspective, but also as a way of achieving healing, closure and justice for survivors of sexual abuse. “
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180