Senate debates

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2009/11

Motion for Disallowance

10:02 am

Photo of Michael RonaldsonMichael Ronaldson (Victoria, Liberal Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | Hansard source

I will reflect on Senator Bob Brown’s words about vulnerability to speculation. My argument with Senator Brown in relation to his constant raising of these matters—which I think, with the greatest respect are more about politics than good policy—is that we will be far more vulnerable to speculation if we do not have an independent arbiter. I cannot for the life of me understand why Senator Brown constantly attacks the independent tribunal. As I have said in this place before, if you want to provide the opportunity for speculation then we will be the ones who will make decisions. It is a ridiculous notion that members of parliament should be making decisions about their own remuneration, and that can be the only outcome of Senator Brown’s constant attack on the Remuneration Tribunal.

I am very confident going out into the community and saying there is an independent umpire. I would have no confidence in going out into the community and saying that members and senators make determinations about their own entitlements. This is a sensible approach by the Remuneration Tribunal because there is a benchmark. But the beauty of an independent tribunal is that it can make decisions that are not, on the face of it, giving equality to members and senators. Indeed, Senator Brown, the Canberra rate for parliamentarians is substantially lower because the Remuneration Tribunal quite rightly said that we are here for a longer period of time and we can make accommodation decisions so it is economically feasible for us to be on a lower rate. Please can we leave the decision of the tribunal where it is. (Time expired)


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