Tuesday, 5 September 2006
Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Public Office and Members of Parliament
Motion for Disapproval
I thank all senators for their contribution to the debate on this disallowance motion. Senator Murray had it right in welcoming this debate. One of the things that has motivated it was the announcement—effectively, by the government—of this pay hike after we had left parliament last time so that the parliament could not debate it. It would be very healthy if these pay rises were announced on the Monday at the start of a sittings so that any MPs who wanted to could contribute to the debate in a more satisfactory way.
Senator Evans drew attention to the fact that some 90 senior public servants would also have their pay rises of seven per cent knocked back to 2.5 per cent. The same arguments that Senator Allison and I took up pertain here. If you look at the pay rises for MPs this decade—including since we have been tied with senior public servants—you will see they are double the wage price index or the CPI. We have not said, ‘Abolish the two rises we have received’; we have said, ‘Hang on to one but jettison the other,’ because it would bring us back much closer to the consumer price index. I do not think that will do any great harm to the senior public servants who are involved. Senator Abetz clearly does not know the rules applying to disallowance motions. You either take the regulation as a whole and reject it or accept it. It is a blunt instrument.
Those are the rules and we cannot alter that. If we could, I perhaps would have sectioned off the senior public servants from the MPs. I do not know. I have just given a good argument as to why they should be included and given a 2.5 per cent pay increase instead of a seven per cent increase. It is a specious argument. It is not a civilian shield argument, it is an executive officer shield argument that Senator Abetz and Senator Evans were bringing forward. Senator Abetz said, ‘There are 18 determinations; why is only this one being challenged for disallowance?’ He should wait for the next five minutes, because the outrageous increase in printing allowance that is coming next will also be the subject of a disallowance motion of not just the Greens but also Labor and the Democrats.
Senator Abetz then went on to say that the mover—that is, me—should say what the Remuneration Tribunal got wrong. Where is the Remuneration Tribunal’s argument? Senator Abetz has not produced it. Nobody in this chamber has seen it.