A Remuneration Tribunal issues paper has found MLAs are not paid enough. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly are expected to receive substantial pay rises after a Remuneration Tribunal issues paper found the $125,000 base salary for MLAs is not enough.
The tribunal has also suggested that ministers could be chauffeur-driven to after-hours functions and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher should be allowed to stay in higher-standard accommodation when travelling on official business.
The discussion paper foreshadows a ''revamped'' discretionary office allowance with higher levels of oversight. The tribunal is conducting the first major reviews of MLAs' entitlements since self-government took effect in 1989.
In an issues paper designed to help encourage public discussion and debate, the tribunal said ACT MLAs arguably had more complex responsibilities than members of other Australian parliaments.
''In relation to the oft-quoted statement that the ACT Legislative Assembly is just a big local council, the Tribunal has dismissed this claim,'' the paper said. ''No other local councils manage school or tertiary education, a jurisdictional health system, law, order, workplace safety and other workplace issues.''
Depending on the formula used, the base rate of pay for MLAs could increase to between $136,000 and $164, 000.
The tribunal believed that pay loadings of between 14 and 96 per cent of the base salary paid to whips, committee chairmen, speaker, opposition leader, ministers and chief minister were ''about right''. But it did note that the 24 per cent loading paid to Deputy Opposition Leader Alistair Coe was higher than payments in similar jurisdictions.
The tribunal was concerned about MLAs having to do extensive driving after hours. ''A car and driver should be provided when members of the Executive are travelling to official functions after hours within the ACT, or at any time outside of the ACT. Some accountability for use of this provision would need to be put in place,'' it said.
It also indicated the Chief Minister should have access to high standard accommodation when travelling. ''The Chief Minister should be treated specially, as other first ministers are in other jurisdictions, to enable appropriate accommodation and travel arrangements befitting the status of Chief Minister.''
Submissions to the review of entitlements can be made until the end of February next year. The tribunal plans to conclude its deliberations by May.