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Come in Spinner!

Salaries in our federal parliament are always interesting and sometimes amusing, much like a game of monopoly.

I have been watching Barnaby Joyce as a case in point. Mainly because in his haphazard political career he has run the gamut of the income fruit salad.

When he was a back-bencher (having lost the National’s leadership) he complained that he wasn’t earning enough now that he had two families to support – as though that was our fault.

As a back-bencher he was on a base salary of $211,250 a year but, when he recaptured the leadership of the Nationals (and to my dismay became our deputy prime minister) he doubled his income, up to a base of $433,575 which for Barnaby was like winning the lottery – he could arguably have afforded a third family but for the bonking ban.

Now that he is deputy opposition leader he drops back to $390,820 p.a. so in the space of a week he has dropped over $40,000 a year.

If he fails to keep the National’s leadership today, which seems to be on the cards, he will drop back to $211,250 should he return to the back bench. So he’ll be down another $180,000 a year or around $3,500 a week – a bad night a the pokies you may think.

Of course, there are numerous perks and allowances that go with the job of being a politician and even the base at $211K is pretty good from where I’m sitting.

When we first became a nation, the remuneration of our politicians was secondary to the honour that they gained in representing their electorate and the nation.

At the Constitutional Convention at Sydney in 1891, Sir Samuel Griffith said:

“One of the first things to be done by the parliament of the commonwealth in its first session would be to settle the salaries of ministers, and a great number of other matters of that kind. We have, therefore, given them power to deal with this subject. We did not think it necessary to make this in any sense a payment of members bill. We lay down, however, the principle that they, are to receive an annual allowance for their services, and we thought that it should start in the first instance at £500.”

How things have changed !


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  1. Keitha Granville

    500 pounds sounds like a great start to me !

    They should never have been given the power to decide their own salaries, that’s been a recipe to print money – for themselves.

  2. Mr Bronte ALLAN

    Australian parliamentarians are paid far too much now! Even the President of America is paid less than our PM, & so on down the line. Why is our PM & all the ministers so highly overpaid? I know they do a “hard” job, but seriously, to be given a salary higher than the President of America is just so wrong? Surely ALL politicians salaries here in Australa should be awarded as they are to the persons in the workplace, not just given a rise because they think they need one? The average worker in Australia has to justify any increases in their wages by following guidelines etc to even try to get any wage rise, so why do the pollies just get given a rise wiyhout any justification? Yeah sure they all say “the salry rises are awarded by an outside “system”, & we do not have any say in them, BUT if ANY of our poiticians had any compasssion–or sense!–they would not just blindly accept any rises without thinking about themselves every time? Still, we must accept that the majority of pollies are only in it for the money & very little else! Great article Terence!

  3. pierre wilkinson

    don’t forget the $675,000 allowance he “earned” as special drought envoy

  4. Terence Mills


    They are still looking for his report which he says was done by text to the PM !

  5. New England Cocky

    With any luck …. Beetrooter will be rolled by another candidate for Nazional$ leader and quit politics to work for his Auntie Gina.

    So there may be a slim chance that new England could have a bye-election …..

    Perhaps that is wishful thinking ….. who in their right mind would employ Beetrooter …..

  6. GL

    Keitha Granville,

    500 pounds sounds like a great start to me !

    Do you mean £’s or a 500 pound weight dropped on him from a great height? The latter would be my chioce.

  7. Jack sprat

    How the fortunes(pun intended) of the conservatives have changed over time, when Bob Menzies retired ,due to a lack of personal wealth, a whip around by his supporters was had to buy him a house and he only accepted it on the condition the house would be sold after his death and the proceeds then donated to charity..

  8. GL

    Aw, poor ickle Bananababy will be back to whining and bitching about how he won’t be able to survive on a backbenchers pay packet. How long will it take him to start plotting and planning to stab Littleproud in the back? My estimation, about 5 minutes after being rolled.

  9. Harry Lime

    Word has it on the streets of New England that the value of hostelries has taken a sudden unexplained bounce.

  10. Canguro

    “I gave every ounce of my energy to make sure I looked after the people of regional Australia, the people in the small family businesses, the people in the weatherboard and iron, the people on the farms, making sure that we drove the investments to hopefully take their standard of living ahead.”… said Barnaby the Loser. [reported by the SMH at 2.35pm]

    Another porky!

    I’m sure it took a couple of joules to punch out those text messages and check that the $675,000 had gone through to his petty cash account.

  11. New England Cocky

    @ Canguro: you are just a leftie doubter ….. Beetrooter only ever represented the best interests of Beetrooter. This meant deceptive utternaces aboutincreasing the capacity of Dungowan Dam, allegedly for Tamworth City water supply especially during Country Music Week. But further down stream near Gunnedah is an expanding coal mine requiring access to almost unlimited water that is priced out of the reach of farmers producing food & fibre.

  12. Michael Taylor

    Canguro, he probably thought he was talking to his mates down at the local watering hole (after a few drinks, of course).

  13. Jack sprat

    Losing his leadership job and being a good Catholic by not wearing a condom and having lots of children there is nothing for it but for Barnyard to send off his kids for medical experiments.(apologies to monty python)

  14. wam

    And while the government is refusing to release details of how much the position cost taxpayers, the former Nationals leader claimed $675,000 in expenses for the nine months in the role, and was allocated two staff members to conduct his work at a cost of an estimated $200,000.
    The $675,000 figure includes Joyce’s normal work as a backbencher, but the government has declined to say how much was related to his work as special envoy.”

    Barnaby and littleproud are not worthwhile worrying about any more. Dumpton and susson everything like wise. Albo and tanya should set the scene and move past them.
    The pollies of the past were old men took days to get to canberra and were away from family. Today’ pollies have no such problems but claim as if they do. In the territory pollies are not far from shit kickers like me. This gives good chances to see little perks that give the lie to ‘away from family’ and to see how they don’t spend their salary because we owe them for all the work and responsibility. Well I challenge almost every pollie I meet to publish their calendar for busiest 3 months, showing where, how long, who with and any outcomes. Most and their spouses squeal with indignation, call me names and repeat how hard they work and are away from their family. The leave to circulate or remove me from Sadly, Ms Granville, They used to vote on the floor of the house, open to the australian people. Then a sleazy lawyer discovered a method of secret unannounced payrises. Firstly she established an independent panel secondly she remove politicians from the process by removing any need to vote. Then the ‘piece de resistance’ for this scholarly plan was terms of reference which delivered the coup de gras for independence. The result is a system worse than all the rorts from all the parliaments in Australia. A system that benefits all living politicians both current and ex plus the spouses, partners of dead ones(mrs hawke will still be getting big mobs of cash on top of her inheritance from hawke) For pollies independent simply means no pollies.

  15. Canguro

    Do try harder wam. Hazel Hawke passed away in 2013.

    How can you be expected to be taken seriously when you make such basic errors of statement and fact?

    And if you don’t expect to be taken seriously, what’s the point of posting. A giggle, as you like to suggest?

  16. wam

    Hahaha giggle giggle canguru not
    Your face should have blanche cheeks but a simple apology should save any further ‘blanche’???
    You have a good role models here who also fail to understand my posts.
    try this
    Labor won macnamara but we cannot see how because the AEC stopped publishing the process.
    labor 28419
    greens(notice not the vic greens like in qld greens) 26508
    libs 26006
    The greens are easy winners as the vast majority of libs put greens above labor.
    Missing the evidence of how the libs scored 503 preferences more than the loonies.
    On previous experience, 10 years old, more than enough would have come from 2nd place on the ballot paper.

  17. Kaye Lee


    One nation, Lib Dems and UAP got 5,082. Animal Justice and the independent got 3350. Easy to see the Libs getting the extra 503 to propel them past the Greens and into 2nd spot.

  18. wam

    duh kaye, (QED Canga where are you about basic errors???)
    Do you think that your guess is not easy for people to make? Even thickoes like me? I asked to see evidence of one section, usually described as an animal, but the importance is not guessing but SEEING the evidence. Why is the AEC keeping secrets????

  19. Kaye Lee

    Silly me. When you said “try this….The greens are easy winners as the vast majority of libs put greens above labor”, I thought (apparently mistakenly) that you were doing a Julius Sumner Miller. Why is it (not) so?

  20. wam

    You silly? No, your inability to understand could be just because the concept is difficult unless you read for meaning. let me explain: on first preferences the libs are 3rd if that order stays ie they are excluded, the loonies must win because in all seats I saw, before the exclusions were excluded from the public, showed the majority(perhaps vast??) of lib preferences went to the loonies. On that evidence, no labor candidate can win a marginal seat when the greens finish ahead the liberals.
    Who remembers the 9 seats target? That was the bandit’s(sorry cangaroo hope you don’t blanche at that poor joke) plan for 9 seats.(did you miss his plan??) I am sure you are aware of my satisfaction that labor has 76 and with wilkie as speaker that thwarts the bandit hope for balance in the lower house but with only 25 of the 76 senators they will be doing a lot of negotiating.
    I hold Sumner- Miller is high regard and have often chided lord for his mockery of the catch phrase. Perhaps that is behind your barb?
    Nevertheless I concede to you.
    pax tecum.

  21. Kaye Lee

    I have no problem understanding preferential voting. My “inability to understand” what the hell you are talking about sometimes is, however, another issue.

    You seemed to suggest that because the Greens were running second on first preferences that they must win – but you also seemed to ignore the preferences from the other five candidates that obviously, and unsurprisingly, must have put the Liberals into second place thus assuring a strong win for Labor on Greens preferences.

  22. Wobbles

    Something that is never mentioned when discussing the matter of Commonwealth Travel Allowance – like various other “entitlements” of office, is that they are totally tax-free and are the equivalent of cash-in-hand payments.

    I can’t think of a circumstance where this would be done in private enterprise or at least without attracting some sort of benefits tax payable by the employer.

    It’s not a bad racket.

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