Is $263,000 fair pay for our Chief Minister? Photo: Jay Cronan
How much are our local politicians worth?
In what is thought to be a first for an Australian jurisdiction, the ACT Remuneration Tribunal is calling for public submissions to its review of Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly's pay.
The tribunal froze the MLAs' pay last week at the urging of Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.
With the freeze in place, the chief minister's pay will be $263,000 in 2012-13, and deputy leader Andrew Barr will earn a little more than $225,000.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson will receive about $213,000.
The base pay for MLAs is $125,259.
Chair of the ACT Remuneration Tribunal Anne Cahill Lambert said anyone could have their say on the issue, but she urged people to look beyond the usual knee-jerk reaction to politicians' pay.
"What we're hoping is that people will take a good hard look and not be quick and flippant and quick to say we pay them too much already," she said.
"Is it fair that the people who report to the ministers and the chief minister get get paid way more than they do? Is it fair that the leader of the opposition gets way less than the public servants that are required to appear before him for the scrutiny process under the estimates committee?"
Ms Cahill Lambert said the pay and benefits of Canberra's politicians, who did not get annual leave, long service leave or sick leave, had lagged behind others in Australia.
"Our MLAs tend to be be happy with their lot, but we're looking to the future, we want to be sure the ACT can continue to attract and maintain a high quality calibre suite of MLAs, and we want to make sure we're paying them fairly," she said.
But Ms Cahill Lambert denied any decision had been made about whether MLAs should be paid more.
"I wouldn't want pre-empt what my colleague tribunal members would say and I want to hear what does go on around Australia," she said.
Ms Cahill Lambert said public submissions would be considered along side a "whole heap of other factors."