Politicians’ Pay

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Letter sent to the Bundaberg NewsMail on 21 December 2015.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to LC Merry’s letter about politicians’ wages.

Australians have a right to know how many of their hard-earned tax dollars are spent paying their elected representatives. I am, after all, employed by Hinkler voters.

That’s why it’s concerning that much of the information shared on social media and via chain emails originates overseas and is, therefore, not relevant to Australian politicians.

I’d like to correct a couple of mistruths that seem to circulate every few months. Current Members of the Australian Parliament receive only the same superannuation entitlements as the rest of the public service. The Defined Benefit Parliamentary Pension Scheme ended 11 years ago.  

Federal politicians’ salaries are not determined by the Australian Parliament. They are set by the Remuneration Tribunal, which is an independent statutory authority.  As part of the 2014 Budget, the Coalition Government asked the Remuneration Tribunal to freeze politicians’ wages for 12 months. They agreed.

I’m sorry LC Merry feels “politicians are making life harder for normal people”. I may be a politician, but I am also a “normal person” who pays tax. I am a husband and father of three. Before entering politics in 2013, I owned a small business and grew sugar cane. I became a politician because I wanted to be a strong voice for the community I love. I don’t know anyone who entered politics for the so-called “perks”. 

Your readers may be interested to know that 48 per cent of Australian households pay no net tax. All levels of Government, like households and businesses, must live within their means. We can’t repeatedly spend more than we earn. This financial year alone, more than 30 per cent of all government revenue will be spent to assist the most vulnerable people in our community – that’s $144 billion on Social Services, like the disability pension, aged pension and unemployment benefits. A further $32 billion will be spent on employment initiatives, education and training. Almost $50 billion will be spent on health.

We’re all guilty of sharing information we’ve received online or heard at the pub, but I encourage your readers to dig a little deeper and compare the figures themselves. The entitlements and expenditure of each federal parliamentarian is published every six months on the Department of Finance website.

Keith Pitt MP

Member for Hinkler