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Tribunal finds ACT politicians underpaid

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher Photo: Jay Cronan

Territory politicians are underpaid compared  with other parliaments and their pay packets will be the subject of an independent review, according to the head of the ACT Remuneration Tribunal.

The tribunal handed down its determination on MLA salaries on Wednesday, freezing the base pay for MLAs at $125,259.

But the freeze is a temporary measure while the tribunal launches a review of MLA salaries and allowances to determine if they are too far behind politicians in other states and territories.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher had called for a pay freeze for MLAs in 2013-14 due to a tough ACT economy and the ACT government’s low pay offer to the territory’s public servants.

Ms Gallagher said she was pleased that Wednesday’s decision was in line with that recommendation, but the public service union rejected the request for a pay freeze as a "stunt".

The Chief Minister’s pay packet was set at $263,000 in 2012-13, while deputy leader Andrew Barr earned slightly over $225,000.

While the pay freeze is in force, Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson will receive about $213,000.

Remuneration tribunal chairwoman Anne Cahill Lambert said the freeze was a short-term measure to allow an independent consultant to do a "root-and-branch review" of MLAs’ salaries, entitlements and allowances.

In particular, the allowances received by territory politicians fell well short of those offered by other parliaments, Ms Cahill Lambert said.

"We think our MLAs are underdone compared to others around Australia," she said.

 "That doesn’t mean that when we do the review we’re going to give them what everyone else gets."

Ms Cahill Lambert said the lack of an upper house in the ACT meant that territory MLAs had "a much more important influence on the outcome than one member elsewhere in Australia".

She said the review, to be completed by October, would also consider the Assembly’s calls for a resettlement allowance for politicians who lose their seat at an election and have to find new work.

"I’m conscious that there’s never really a good time to increase a politician’s pay," Ms Cahill Lambert said. "I think if you want people to continue to rise for political office you need to be fair. Our MLAs are paid well below the band one in the public service. Is that fair?"

Wednesday’s determination included a 2 per cent pay rise for the territory’s heads of service, directors-general and executives.

Unions rejected the government’s 2per cent pay offer for four years to the territory’s 20,000 public servants.

The Community and Public Sector Union said on Wednesday that Ms Gallagher’s call for a pay freeze for MLAs was "a stunt".

"I’m not having a bar of that," ACT branch secretary Vince McDevitt said. "If our people were on wages like that we’d probably entertain the idea of a pay freeze too."

11 comments so far

  • Anybody who votes "they should be paid more" clearly works in the LA.

    Now pay for your own parking too...

    Date and time
    June 19, 2013, 12:51PM
    • Well, Zed certainly left the place at the right time.

      His Lordship
      Date and time
      June 19, 2013, 1:22PM
      • Ms Gallagher's salary will remain at $263,000 while her deputy leader Andrew Barr will earn slightly over $225,000.
        C'mon, these figures are nothing short of obscene.

        Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson will earn about $213,000.
        And this for doing SFA, c'mon.

        Date and time
        June 19, 2013, 1:32PM
        • Gallagher and Barr are bad enough but Hanson and for what, my bloody wage has been frozen at $52k for 3 years and I work a lot bloody harder than Hanson does these days and I don't get to the coffee and croissant openings and closings politicians are readily available for.

          Date and time
          June 19, 2013, 1:48PM
          • No objections to a pay rise from me. (provided they deduct the cost of SkyWhale from their pay packet first).

            Date and time
            June 19, 2013, 1:53PM
            • This is why we need to abolish the Legislative Assembly and get a proper city council.

              Date and time
              June 19, 2013, 2:07PM
              • But it leads to them imposing a pay freeze on the ACT Public Service.

                Outraged of Palmerston
                Date and time
                June 19, 2013, 2:11PM
                • I cant believe these half baked council members get paid this much.

                  There should be a pay decrease not a freeze.

                  Date and time
                  June 19, 2013, 3:08PM
                  • No problems in financing all the salaries. It can be recouped from motorist doing more than 40kph at 3.00am in Lathlain St Belconnen. After all, that's extremely dangerous speed in that place at that time in the middle of winter. You might end up hitting a fox of kangaroo bounding past you.

                    Date and time
                    June 19, 2013, 4:21PM
                    • If it was performance pay, their salaries would be going down.

                      Date and time
                      June 19, 2013, 8:29PM

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