MELBOURNE, Australia — Victorian members of parliament will receive a 2.5 percent pay rise from July, raising questions of fairness in times of pandemic-induced financial hardship.
The pay rise decision was made by the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal, which released its annual “adjustment determination” for Member of Parliaments on June 25. The Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal is responsible for setting remuneration for Members of Parliament (MPs), local councilors and executives in the Victorian public sector.
Pressed on the issue by reporters on June 26, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said he would donate his wage increase to charities in his electorate, as he did in 2020.
Foley emphasized the pay rise decision had been made by an independent body at arm’s length from the government — a system set up by the government a few years ago.
“Member of Parliaments have no role in that arrangement,” he said.
Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Karen Batt said the pay rise to Member of Parliaments should be applied to the whole public sector.
“Anything else looks hypocritical,” she said.
According to documents on the tribunal’s website, Premier Daniel Andrews’ salary was AU$184,665 ($1,36,680)in 2019, rose to AU$203,542 ($1,54,559) in 2020 and as of this week, when he returns to work after recovering from a back injury, will rise to AU$208,631 ($1,58,423).
Cabinet ministers and Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien are on the same income. They earned AU$138,270 ($1,04,995) in 2019, which rose to AU$153,325 ($1,16,427) in July 2020 and this week will increase to AU$157,158 ($1,19,337). Michael Anthony O’Brien is an Australian politician. He has been a Liberal Party member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly since 2006, representing the electorate of Malvern and currently serves as the leader of the party and Opposition Leader since December 2018.
In its reasons for the pay rise, the tribunal wrote that the state’s economic outlook is expected to improve, for example, gross state product is expected to grow by 6.5 percent and employment rates are on the rise. It said the pay rises are in line with wage policy.
O’Brien said there was no place for a pay rise given many Victorians are recovering from the state’s fourth coronavirus lockdown.
“I can’t think of anything more tone-deaf than Member of Parliament pay rises at a time like this,” he tweeted.
“Small businesses are still struggling. People are losing wages and jobs.
“This is Daniel Andrews’ system. His first job back must be to fix it.”
If the pay rise goes through, O’Brien said he would donate his increase to charity.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Ritaban Misra)
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