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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