THEY'RE Aussie icons and former leaders we either loved to hate or adore.
Our five former prime ministers are getting on a bit, but they're still active. The oldest, Gough Whitlam, is 97, and the youngest, Paul Keating, is 69. The five of them cost taxpayers on average almost $1 million a year.
In the six months to June 30 last year they cost the taxpayer $473,241 in airline travel, limousine hire, private vehicle costs, family travel and each maintaining an office with a secretary.
Office facilities make up the bulk of the costs, at $359,202.
Former Coalition PM John Howard (74) is the most recent recruit to this exclusive club and naturally the costliest. His bill to taxpayers came to $156,157 for the six months. Despite his 83 years, former Coalition PM Malcolm Fraser was next with $114,467, then former Labor PM Paul Keating (69) on $72,360, former Labor PM Bob Hawke (84) on $66,650, and former Labor PM Gough Whitlam on $63,607.
John Howard was the biggest spender on airfares at $8472, but his former boss Malcolm Fraser topped the spenders in car costs, at $14,089, for limousine hire and private vehicle costs.
If Tony Abbott's Coalition parties win this year's Federal election the exclusive club membership will grow from five to seven, with the addition of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
By comparison, former US presidents are entitled to a pension of about $US200,000 a year, lifelong secret service protection and a salary scale for post-presidential staff of initially $150,000 a year, and then about $100,000 a year. Former presidents also have their own quarters to stay at when in Washington, at Jackson Place opposite the White House. The multi-storey residence has multiple bedrooms, two dining rooms and living quarters for secret service agents.
If Prime Minister Julia Gillard loses the election this year and retires she would enjoy a pension of about $340,000 a year plus a ministerial loading. Kevin Rudd would enjoy a pension of $129,000 a year plus ministerial loading for his time as opposition leader, PM and foreign minister.
On $495,000 a year plus allowances, Ms Gillard earns more than her counterparts in the US, Britain and Germany.