Premier Campbell Newman, his ministers and opponents have been awarded pay rises after the Independent Remuneration Tribunal completed its overhaul of their salaries.
Under the new rules, Premier Campbell Newman’s wage will jump 21.8 per cent, from $311,635 to $379,562, almost $70,000 more. But 14 of the state’s Directors-General will still earn more than him.
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Pay rise an 'independent' decision
Campbell Newman admits "many people won't be happy" with his $70,000 pay rise but the 21 per cent jump has been set by "an independent tribunal".
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney will earn more than $70,000 extra, taking his salary to $333,419.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk will receive an $80,000 pay rise, taking her salary from $230,062 to $310,347. Government ministers will receive about the same.
Serving on a committee now comes with a $23,071 boost to an MP’s base salary, which was set at $148,848 by the tribunal last year.
Each office bearer’s pay is set on a sliding percentage scale based on the premier’s additional salary. For instance, the deputy premier’s pay increase is set at 80 per cent of the premier’s rise.
But the tribunal abolished the expense of office allowance when making its decision. For the Premier, that had been $19,288. The Leader of the Opposition received $18,425. The tribunal determined the allowance was a "de facto salary" and chose to axe it, in favour of its new determination.
The increases will be backdated to July 2013.
Speaking ahead of the tribunal’s announcement, Mr Newman said he did not expect everyone to be happy with the tribunal’s decision but he stressed its independence.
“Politicians shouldn’t be setting their own pay and they are not now and that is the most important thing,” he told Fairfax Radio 4BC.
“... If that is of any comfort to Queenslanders, I just assure them that politicians aren’t setting their pay anymore and you have this fine group of people, who are independent, they are not associated with us, our friends and relatives, or anything like that, they hand down a decision, whether I like it or don’t like it, whether the community do or don’t, it is their decision and it gets implemented.”
Ms Palaszczuk said she didn’t believe the determination met community expectations.
“The Premier has every opportunity to now fix this up,” she said.
“He promised that he would set up an independent tribunal and it would meet community expectations and be reasonable.
“This is not reasonable.”
Ms Palaszczuk said Labor MPs were still deciding on how they would deal with the rise.
Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams accused the government of "hypocrisy".
"Public sector workers battled for years for just a 2.2 per cent pay rise that was only backdated a month,” he said in statement.
"The government also insists that the QIRC must take Queensland’s financial situation into account when considering pay rises."
Chairman Tim Brailsford said the tribunal made its decision without taking into account, “any of the personal characteristics” of any of the incumbent office bearers.
“The tribunal has undertaken extensive research and analysis using a variety of public and private sector benchmarks,” he said.
“Further, the tribunal considered the roles and responsibilities of the position of Premier in Queensland and the unique attributes of the state of Queensland, including the unicameral system.”
Professor Brailsford said an analysis revealed the Premier was “at the lower end” of salaries received by senior public servants.
He said over the past decade, the position of premier had received the lowest increase in “total salary in a comparison across the states”.
“Consequently, the tribunal is of the view that the additional salary for the role of premier should be significantly increased,” he said.
Mr Newman established the tribunal following the announcement Queensland MPs were to receive a 42 per cent pay rise in May last year.
After a review, this was wound down to 9 per cent. The remuneration tribunal decision is final and cannot be interfered with by the parliament.
Professor Brailsford said he believed they had found the appropriate balance.
“The officer holders are not just the Premier, and the office holders have generally been at the bottom end of all the state comparisons,” he said.