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MP argues $190,000 salary is too low, asks for pay rise

Pictured: Tasmanian MP Sue Hickey, Australian cash suggesting pay-rise. Images: Getty, Sue Hickey
Politicians' salaries are in the headlights again. Images: Getty, Sue Hickey

Tasmanian MP Sue Hickey has called for a pay rise, arguing her $190,000 pay packet was too low compared to those in similar roles on mainland Australia.

In an interview with the ABC, the Clark MP and Tasmanian Speaker said she works long hours, and that the pay needed to reflect that to attract the best politicians and workers to Tasmania.

“I recognise that most of our public servants believe they're underpaid and a lot of people would like to see Newstart increased, and we do look like we've got significantly larger salaries," the Liberal MP said.

"But I can tell you we're working very, very long hours, seven days a week, and sometimes putting ourselves at great risk. I would just like to see it commensurate with our peers on the mainland."

Hickey said Tasmania’s Legislative Council President and Speaker were the worst-paid presiding officers across Australia, backed up by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, which released a paper this year finding Tasmanian politicians earn the least.

However, Tasmanian politicians also generally had fewer constituents for each politician.

The Speaker has taken her case to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission’s review into politicians’ pay.

In Tasmania, the base salary for a member of state parliament is $140,185, with Speakers receiving an allowance of $49,065 on top of that, in addition to a 6 per cent loading for office spending.

However, in the ACT, Speakers earn more than $260,000.

Hickey isn’t alone in calling for greater pay, with independent MP Tania Rattray submitting to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission that MPs should receive extra funds to help them transition into the workforce should they lose a seat or step down.

“In many cases MPs have relinquished positions to stand for election and subsequently take up a role and returning to previous employment is not always possible,” she said.

“A resettlement allowance would assist with that transitioning period that I expect is very challenging.”

She noted that South Australia provides a 12-week resettlement salary.

Tasmanian Unions, however, said Tasmanian politicians may be paid to much, commenting on the 10.35 per cent pay rise granted in 2016.

“Politicians are fortuitous in that the only performance appraisal they receive is at the ballot box where popularity does not necessarily equal competence. While most workers in the private and public sectors have had to justify ‘productivity gains’ or other savings in order to win sometimes meagre wage raises, no such trade off occurs with MP salaries,” the union added.

Tasmanian politicians receive a 2 per cent pay rise every year.

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