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pay peanuts get monkeys

By Daniel Bradley - posted Tuesday, 11 October 2011

We should pay our politicians significantly more money.

There I said it. And the sky didn't collapse.

It isn't the popular view, and every time it is raised in some way shape or form there is a raft of discourse from people like 'angry of surrey hills', or 'pay them less from wollongong' or 'how dare you from mackay'. And given the group we have currently in office are hardly setting the world on fire, it is an understandable reaction.


However the fact they are so ordinary illustrates my point. If we pay peanuts, we get monkeys. And we've got a few monkeys.

So let's look at what they are paid. The parliamentary base salary is $140,910. This is the reference point from which ministers salaries are determined, the additional percentage of the base salary and the final salary for each role is as follows:


Prime Minister 160% $366,336
Deputy Prime Minister  105% $288,865
Treasurer  87.5% $264,206
Cabinet Ministers 72.5% $243,069
Back Benchers 0% $140,910

There are various other categories with varying additional percentages from 25% to 87.5% in addition to the base salary. Further to this there are allowances and perks: a funded car, business class airfares, travel allowances, not to mention the lifetime gold pass for travel on retirement. It's a lot of money and for most of us looks like a pretty good wicket. And there is no doubt that compared to the 'average' person they are well compensated. However do we really want 'average' people in the position of driving the country? Or do we want 'extraordinary' people?

When the ceiling of your earnings is in the mid 300′s (notwithstanding the perks) the appeal of going into public office for this calibre of person is reduced, considering their earning potential in the private sector. Particularly when you consider the impact on their personal life: politicians are away from their family for significant periods of time, missing birthdays, anniversaries and pet funerals in the backyard.


Take a look at the annual report of any reasonably sized publicly listed company: CEO's routinely earn high 6-figures, and million dollar salaries are not uncommon. For the purpose of this discussion I'll ignore the astronomical salaries of the bosses of the banks, grocery chains, miners and some others, as they are in the minority. However even ignoring those, it doesn't take long to identify numerous CEO's, or even CFO's, earning the big bucks.

If you are an extraordinarily talented businessman/woman with the necessary skills to succeed in either business or politics, and you had the capacity to earn over a million dollars in the private sector, or a maximum of mid 300′s in politics with the personal impositions that come with it, what would you do?

Unless you're independently wealthy like Malcolm Turnbull or Kevin Rudd, or believe that political life is your calling, it is likely you would choose the money trail. And who could argue. So consider the following scenario:

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This article was first published on Spin Spun

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