A SUGGESTION from Opposition Senator Robert Montague that former public-sector workers who broke their service in order to enter representational politics should be allowed to merge both services in order to get pension benefits was rejected in Parliament on Friday.
Montague, a one-term member of parliament, is set to qualify for pension as a legislator with the passage of a bill that merges years of service as councillors and members of parliament.
Speaking in the Senate on Friday, Montague said that while others like him will benefit from the passage of the bill, the legislation should have gone further.
"There are many cases where a councillor, having served, is not qualified for pensions because of his service, yet before he or she became a councillor, served in the government department in other areas," Montague said.
He added: "There is no provision to link that service. Like, for example, he was a civil servant, that should be linked now to the period of councillor so that he can get a pension. He would not have qualified as a civil servant because he didn't serve enough time. He broke his service to become a councillor."
His comment were made in the Senate as the upper House considered and passed amendments to the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Act.
The Act, when signed into law, will allow one-term members of parliament who have served as councillors to qualify for pensions as legislators, providing there is a combined years of service of 11 years.
In pleading the case before the Senate, Montague said "the same way we can treat the member of parliament to facilitate his pension, the service as a councillor is equally as important."
But Arthur Williams, the leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, objected saying the pensions arrangements for politicians is different for the civil service.
He noted that elected persons contribute to a pension scheme, while that is not the case for most groups of public-sector workers.
"To link the non-contributory to a contributory scheme would pose enormous problems, and that would require legislative changes beyond the normal," Williams said.
Similarly, Mark Golding, who piloted the bill through the Senate, sided with Williams. He noted that the legislation before the Senate is dealing with elected officials and said that adding that which Montague is contemplating "would require significant thinking as to the implications of it."