The NSW Government will amend the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1971 to ensure that a former Member of Parliament who is convicted of a serious offence committed during their time in office will lose their pension entitlement, even if they left office before charges were laid.
Currently, MPs convicted of a serious offence – that is, an offence punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of 5 years or more – are liable to losing their parliamentary pension (excluding any personal contributions) only if they are still in office when charged, and are later convicted.
Premier Mike Baird announced the anomaly in the Act would be rectified, following the sentencing in the NSW Supreme Court today of former Labor MP Eddie Obeid. “The crimes of Eddie Obeid and his cronies are the most serious instance of official corruption we have seen in our lifetimes,” Mr Baird said.
“Regardless of political affiliation, any MP who commits a serious offence while in office should face the consequences, and should not be shielded simply because they resign before being charged.
“We will work cooperatively with the Opposition and cross-bench MPs over the summer recess to bring forward amendments that repair this glaring anomaly, and we will make sure they capture Obeid and any others who find themselves in his situation.”
Mr Baird also confirmed that, once Obeid’s avenues for appeal are exhausted, the Government will move to recover taxpayer-funded legal assistance that has been provided to him in this matter as a former minister — an amount in excess of $280,000.
However, costs incurred by Obeid in respect of other ICAC operations that have not, thus far, led to convictions cannot be recovered at this time.