Local member Robert Schwarten tries his hand as a cook last year during a campaign to get politicians to live a day in the lives of Queenslanders. Mr Schwarten says there are plenty of people critical of politicians who would find it tough in public life.
Local member Robert Schwarten tries his hand as a cook last year during a campaign to get politicians to live a day in the lives of Queenslanders. Mr Schwarten says there are plenty of people critical of politicians who would find it tough in public life. CHRIS ISON

MP hits back at pay rise critics

MEMBER for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten has hit back at critics who slammed his call for politicians to be better paid.

Earlier this week Mr Schwarten aired concerns about the future of good government, saying a large section of the community was effectively ruled out of public life because they would have to take a considerable pay cut to be involved or were putting their long-term security at risk.

This sparked an outcry in some quarters that politicians were out of touch.

About three-quarters of those who took part in a Morning Bulletin online poll said politicians were already paid too much.

A Queensland MP earns a base salary of $133,804 a year, but also receives thousands more in allowances that they can pocket if they don’t spend it on their electorate offices.

Mr Schwarten said a politician had to accept the position came with no long-term security, people would intrude into their lives and they were expected to be on call 24 hours a day.

“I assume from the predictable reaction, we will be overloaded with candidates for the next state, federal and local government elections,” Mr Schwarten said.

“If it’s as easy and well paid as these people say I suspect we’ll have a lot more people try it.

“I bet none (of those criticising) will have the guts to put their name on the ballot.”

Mr Schwarten said it was madness that the country’s Prime Minister, who had to make tough life-and-death decisions such as sending soldiers into war, should be paid a small portion of what a TV or radio talk-show host earned.

“I am not surprised by what people are saying,” Mr Schwarten said.

“But the majority of people I have spoken to that are sensible say I make a fair point.”

He said he had seen many members come in, serve their community for three years and then lose their seat.

“It happened to me in 1992 when I had a young family.”

Mr Schwarten said he was not gaining anything personally in the debate other than highlighting what he saw was a flaw.

“And I’m not crying poor,” he said.



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