The former chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission has backed a substantial pay rise for ACT politicians, suggesting pay rates should be in line with wages in the wider Canberra community.
Base pay for Members of the Assembly is $125,260, plus they get loadings for extra jobs like chairing committees; ministers get a 70 per cent loading.
The ACT Remuneration Tribunal is looking at boosting pay by about $15,000 a year, perhaps linking it to executive pay in the ACT public service. Executive level 1 jobs pay $136,700 to $164,800 (a different scale to the federal executive level pay). Another option is to set pay at an average for other states and territories, with Canberra politicians currently paid less than MPs in every jurisdiction except Tasmania.
Alan Henderson, who was head of the grants commission until June last year, has made a submission to the pay review as a private individual. He said that if they were to not deter experienced and successful people, pay rates across the city should come into the equation.
An analysis by the grants commission in 2013 showed that underlying wages in Canberra pay were about above 5 per cent above average, bettered only by Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
“Once the above average level of ACT wages is taken into account, it appears that the base level of remuneration for MLAs in the ACT may be the least attractive of any jurisdiction, even less attractive than in Tasmania,” Mr Henderson wrote.
Of the options put forward by the tribunal, a link with executive public servants’ pay was preferable, he said. Choosing the average level 1 pay of $150,700 would mean a hike of $25,500 a year in members’ pay.
“That may appear like a very large increase, not least in a period of public sector austerity,” Mr Henderson commented. “If, however, it is accepted that attracting good quality candidates is an important consideration, a significant increase may be warranted.”