Independent candidate for Wannon Robert O’Brien has called for a cutting of politicians salaries and entitlements, demanding that they be brought more into line with those of the average Australian.
Federal politicians currently receive a base annual salary of $131,040 per year. The average Australian full-time wage is $64,641.
While conceding that politicians should be putting in long hours serving their electorate, Mr O’Brien believes that this is an excessive amount of pay.
It seems that the Australian Taxation Office agrees, with the maximum fortnightly salary listed in its 2010 fortnightly tax table being $5000, with tax of $1500. The base political salary works out to $5040 per fortnight.
“I know several people in my work environment on a salary of less than $40,000 for 38 hours per week, who in their management position, are actually working 50 to 60 hour weeks to get their job done and avoid trouble from their boss,” said Mr O’Brien.
“Not only is this a indictment on politicians, it is a clear example of greed on behalf of some employers taking advantage of fixed salaries, allowing insufficient hours and staffing for the required work to be performed,” he continued.
On top of their salaries, parliamentarians also receive a $32,000 electorate allowance (more than the minimum wage) meant for representing their electorate, 40% of which can be reclaimed through tax deductions. They also receive a $230 allowance for each night spent in Canberra.
Parliamentarians also receive higher superannuation payments. Those entering parliament from 2004 receive 15% superannuation, while most Australians get only 9%.
Benefits also include Severance Travel which gives, depending on time served in parliament, up to 25 return free flights per year – and the Life Time Gold Pass which gives a lifetime of free travel for the ex-parliamentarian and their spouse.
Ex-Prime Ministers are eligible for extra benefits, including cars, drivers, an office and travel. For 2007-2008, the cost for five ex Prime Ministers was $2,004,657. John Howard had bills of $8560 a week after losing office in November 2007 until June 2008.
“When you leave a normal job, you don’t get your super until you retire. They don’t give you free holidays every year, and they don’t let you come back and use the office for your own purposes. I don’t see why politicians should be any different. We need to highlight the ‘ex’ in ex-parliamentarian,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is important to remember that payment of politicians was introduced to allow working class people to represent their fellow citizens at a time when only the wealthy could afford to do so. It wasn’t meant to give politicians a good income. Many politicians are already wealthy in their own right and will have no problem getting a good job after their term is up,” said Mr O’Brien. “You should enter politics to make a change, to make the lives of all Australians better. Unfortunately, party politics has resulted in ‘Career Politicians’ who see it as a cushy job.”