Tuesday, 5 September 2006
Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Public Office and Members of Parliament
Motion for Disapproval
Yes, I know. But, if you look at it, you will see that it is not reasoned, it is not available and it does not explain why MPs should be getting a pay increase double that of the general populace. It is not there, it is not explained and it is not justified. Let me say again: in my opinion, a politicised organisation ought to give such an explanation, but it has failed to do so. I think it would be a very healthy thing if the current members of the Remuneration Tribunal were replaced. I think they have been there too long, and I think it would be healthy if there were a regular turnover so that they did not look to the government to feel comfortable when they are bringing down deliberations on what MPs, from the Prime Minister down, should be getting in terms of remuneration. Senator Abetz said that most MPs spend their salary in the community. If he is meaning that they do not go shopping outside Australia in the main, I guess that is correct. But if he is meaning that most MPs spend their salary on the community—that is, helping other people in the community—that is simply a nonsense. It does not happen that way.
I value, as I say, the contribution of all senators. However, I think it is important that this matter is debated. Before I sit down, I would like to point out that staff of all of us have been negotiating for a parliamentary pay rise. It has been stalled for months. Under the current government offer, a quarter of them would actually go backwards and not receive a seven per cent increase. I do not think they are satisfactorily paid, and I think many MPs would agree with me on that. I think we should be speaking up for them. The average wage of the people who work for us is less than half of our wage, if you do not add the electoral allowance and so on. They also work very hard. We employ them because they are intelligent and they have great skills. They could all be in the private sector getting more money but, effectively, they are serving the public as well. I am very unhappy with the fact that those pay talks have stalled and that such a miserly attitude is being taken to the proper remuneration of people who work very long hours and contribute greatly to the input we have in debates just like this. I recommend this disallowance motion to the Senate.
That the motion (That the motion (Senator Bob Brown’s) be agreed to.) be agreed to.