Wage freeze: MPs won’t get pay rise for four years
Queensland MPs won't pocket a pay rise for up to four years after the state's independent remuneration tribunal froze their salaries amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The decision will mean state MPs will not be eligible for a pay rise until September, 2023 in a move that will spare taxpayers from shouldering the burden of any salary hikes for their local representatives.
The Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal's decision comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to the tribunal, urging them to put any salary increases for MPs on hold during the pandemic.
The tribunal pointed to a number of reasons for the freeze, including the increasing number of people losing their jobs, widespread "insecurity and anxiety" as well as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"These are not the circumstances where members can or should be quarantined from the stresses of those whom they govern," the report said, referring to the view of a tribunal member who supported the freeze.
"Both the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have recognised these factors in asking that pay be frozen.
"It seems reasonable that members, already well paid, should make a contribution, however symbolic the sacrifice, to the pain felt widely in their communities, particularly by those out of work or facing a future without a job."
Under the tribunal's decision, MPs will not receive a pay rise for the years starting from September 2019, September 2020, September 2021 and September 2022.
The tribunal noted that the pay rates for 2021 and 2022 could be revisited, but that would require law changes.
The chair of the tribunal opposed a pay freeze of at least five years, describing it as "unreasonable" - pointing out that the salary rates of Queensland MPs were falling behind other jurisdictions.
The chair proposed pay increases of 2.5 per cent from September 2021 and September 2022, but the recommendation was not supported by a majority of the tribunal.
Greens MP Michael Berkman, who advocated for politicians to receive a pay cut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, welcomed the wages decision.
"I'm glad politicians will finally have our wages frozen, because we can actually afford it - but it doesn't bring back the nurses' and teachers' hard-won wage agreements that Labor tore up, or the $500 million of spending they ripped from the economy," he said.
"Labor gave mining corporations a royalty freeze in the same month they froze wages for frontline workers going above and beyond during COVID-19."
But while politicians will have their wages frozen, the Tribunal has recommended Opposition frontbenchers receive additional money to travel.
"It is the Tribunal's view that Opposition Spokespersons should receive an amount outside of the GTA (general travel entitlement) to facilitate travel for the primary purpose performing portfolio related parliamentary business," the report read.
"The Tribunal's preference is that arrangements for Opposition Spokespersons be consistent with administrative and budget arrangements for Ministers and the Leaders of the Opposition.
"As such, the Tribunal has resolved to write to the Premier recommending amendment to the Opposition Handbook to enable Opposition Spokespersons to claim travel expenses from the budget for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and an appropriate increase to the opposition budget to facilitate this additional cost."
Salaries of MPs
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk - $399,955
Deputy Premier Steven Miles - $351,788
Attorney-General and Leader of the House Yvette D'Ath - $333,726
Cabinet Ministers - $327,705
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington - $327,705
Speaker Curtis Pitt - $303,622
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander - $255,455
Assistant Ministers - $243,414
Deputy Speaker - $243,414
Manager of Opposition Business - $243,414
Chief Government Whip - $243,414
Shadow Ministers - $219,330
Committee Chairs - $219,330
Base salary for MPs - $159,122
Originally published as Wage freeze: MPs won't get pay rise for four years