In March this year the Remuneration Tribunal awarded our Federal politicians a pay rise. The Remuneration Tribunal is an independent body that reviews and recommends what our elected members of government get paid. This pay increase kicked in on July 1.
Now, the tribunal has recommended another three per cent pay rise. This is more than double the current inflation rate.
The average Federal backbencher now earns $190,500 – that’s an increase of about $50,000 in the past year. The Prime Minister salary now stands at $495,430; increasing just shy of $130,000 in the past year. The leader of the opposition pockets $352,517; the increase amounting to slightly less than a $92,000 a year salary boost.
While there is no such thing as a good time to increase a politician’s salary, this latest recommendation seems out of step with what’s going on across the country. Indeed, several politicians have spoken out against the proposed increase.
How does this stack up?
At a time when the government is under fire for not funding an extra $50 a week for people on the Newstart allowance, a boost of more than $100 a week for backbencher pay isn’t sitting well with most. The Prime Minister is earning an extra $2,500 a week.
Are our politicians worth it? Like it or not, regardless of your political persuasion, politicians do work hard. It’s not all slanging matches and childish taunts across parliament. It does include long hours, usually away from families, dealing with issues and trying to negotiate solutions, find answers and, hopefully, do the right thing as representatives of their electorate.
In 2004, the Howard government made a dramatic change to the superannuation scheme that was on offer to all politicians and federal judges. Under the old scheme, after just eight years of service to their country, a politician could collect a pension that was equivalent to half of their salary for life. Plus, they did not have to wait until 55.
So, if you were a backbencher prior to 2004, had served eight years and then were voted out, you could collect $51,000 a year, for life, as soon as you walked out of the hallowed halls of parliament.
The Howard government changed the legislation and now the superannuation scheme is in alignment with standard super schemes.
State by state
base salary p.a.
base salary p.a.
But wait, there’s more!
Politicians are elected representatives of their electorate. At both state and federal level, this means many travel from their electorate when parliament sits. So, travel allowances are in addition to the base salaries, as is superannuation, and an electoral allowance.
Plus, depending on the particular committees or offices that an elected official may hold, additional payments may be made.
It still takes a particular type of person to be a politician, and to do the job that they do. Being in the service of the public is demanding. Now, it is also quite well paid.
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