Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten.
Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten. File Image

Better pay in the private sector

MEMBER for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten fears for the future of good government because politicians are not being paid enough.

In a letter to the editor Mr Schwarten, who will retire at the next state election, said the current pay packets our politicians picked up meant a large section of the community was effectively ruled out of public life.

Responding to an opinion piece by Dr Kim Bulwinkel, who has announced he won't seek preselection as the LNP's candidate for Rockhampton because of personal financial circumstances, Mr Schwarten said politicians' salaries had dropped relative to other professions.

State MPs pick up about $120,000 a year – Mr Schwarten points out that's about $5000 less than the principals of the largest high schools.

“When I entered Parliament, backbenchers, such as I am now, were paid more than these high-school principals,” Mr Schwarten said.

“That is no longer the case and we are well below most senior public servants, council officers and certainly below most private sector executives.

“Over the years politicians have knocked back pay rises which has driven down relativities.

“The latest of these was only two years ago, but of course, no one wants to remember that.”

He said the point was a large slice of the community could not afford a pay cut to become a politician these days.

“This means only the seriously wealthy, semi-retired or very young will increasingly find parliamentary service appealing,” Mr Schwarten said.

“I do not think, in the long term, this will enhance democracy or good government.”

Last year Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Brad Carter accepted a pay rise, shortly before Christmas, while councillors knocked back a rise.

At the time Cr Carter said he believed in the principle elected people should be paid appropriately.

His pay packet rose from $150,601 to $153,870.

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