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The sneaky way QLD MPs sought more pay

QUEENSLAND Senator Ian Macdonald has made headlines this morning, saying moves to strip back politician's generous entitlements are "pure populism".

In a speech to parliament Senator Macdonald said PM Malcolm Turnbull's move to cut the life gold travel pass for former members of parliament will end with Australia being governed by someone like Hitler or Stalin. 

However while Macdonald may be the only pollie making comments like these in public, a quick glance at the submissions made to the tribunal which decides Queensland state MP's pay shows he is from the only one whining about losing cash and perks. 

In 2013 the Newman Government handed over the power to set parliamentarians' pay to the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal. 

"We have drawn a line in the sand to ensure no Queensland politician, current or retired, will get a pay rise under the system distorted and manipulated by the former Labor Government," Mr Newman said at the time. 

"We are sorting this mess out once and for all, in a totally independent and transparent manner."

Ironically the Tribunal went on to not only increase MP's pay but also make it possible for people like John-Paul Langbroek to claim hotels while staying about 20 minutes from his home - an expense claim he has since paid back.

In 2013 the Tribunal called for submissions from the public, posing the question are Queensland's state politicians paid too much?

And among the 2568 submissions received - the vast majority of which were against any increase in pay or entitlements - there were a number of anonymous letters which advocated for a pollie pay increase. 

"During my 20 years in the Parliament I witnessed the erosion of conditions and pay of members," one MP anonymously submitted. 

The MP in question then went on to question the fairness of having to fork out to go to Brisbane and attend State Parliament. 

"I estimate that over (my time as) as a minister which required me to be in Brisbane for at least three days per week cost me more than $15 000 to provide meals for myself," the MP wrote.

"No other public servant many of whom are paid higher than MPs is expected to bear such a cost."

As a result the Tribunal's subsequent finding introduced an allowance for MPs - of $105 a day - to pay for their expenses when they attend Parliament.

Most MPs now claim about $5000 per financial year for meals and other expenses while they are in the capital.

Brisbane MPs also claim the allowance if they're forced to work more than 12 hours in a day.  

The majority do not claim accommodation, Queensland's politicians are supplied with a room in the Parliamentary Annexe next to Parliament House, on George St in the Birsbane CBD.

Having to fork out to sustain himself while in the big smoke wasn't the MP's only gripe.  

"A fully funded vehicle was provided to ministers in their own electorates with reasonable private use," the MP also complained.

"This was abolished under the Beattie government yet Senior Executive Service officers, judges medical workers etc kept their vehicles."

In 2015 the rules which govern MPs entitlements were changed so that they could once again claim cars. 

Members with small electorates can claim up to $25,000 a year while those presiding over larger areas can get up to $42,000.

Some such as the Member for Kawana Jarrod Bleijie choose to hire additional cars if they travel outside their electorate. 

"There will always be a noisy minority of those who criticize any pay or conditions for MPs," the anonymous politician submitted,  

"Generally speaking the community never likes talk of any public servant getting a wage increase however it is accepted that such increases occur.

"My experience is that the 'man in the street' thinks politicians are better paid than they are."

Queensland MPs presently get a base salary of $155,621 a year - if they are a member of a committee they get $179,348 and if they chair a committee that goes up again to $214,940. 

The Deputy Opposition Whip and Deputy Government Whip get $185,280 and the Whip of both major parties get $191,212. 

A party leader - for example Steve Dickson, or Robbie Katter - is eligible for a pay increase and as such receives $214,940 a year. 

Speaker Peter Wellington gets paid $297,985 a year. 

An assistant minister gets $238,667 a year and a Minister $321,713. 

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is paid $345,440 a year and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gets paid $392,895 for each year she is in the top job. 

According to the ABS the average annual wage of an Australian worker in May 2016 was $60,330.40 - meaning even the lowest paid member of parliament takes home more than two and a half times the average wage. 

Topics:  editors picks parliament pay politicians politicians' entitlements queensland


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