Pay politicians what they are worth.

When seeking pay increases, politicians are fond of lecturing us on how, “If we pay peanuts we will get monkeys.” Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that paying more will keep the monkeys out. There are many people who would be the right sort to trust in office, who have nothing but disdain for politics. Pay will not change this; it is the institution itself that they shun.

Queensland Labor backbencher Robert Schwarten, is the latest to launch into an irrational diatribe on the issue:

QUEENSLAND politicians are poorly paid and deserve more money, according to a senior Labor MP.

Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten today said fewer people were attracted to a career in public life because the profession had fallen behind in the pay scales.

“When I entered Parliament, backbenchers, such as I am now, were paid more than these high-school principals,” Mr. Schwarten said in a letter to his local newspaper.

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

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

Backbenchers currently earn $133,804 annually but also receive thousands of dollars more in allowances that they can pocket as extra pay if they don’t spend the money on their electorate offices.

Schwarten is basically claiming that it is in our interests to have a professional class of politicians like him. For some reason he seems to believe that on election, Joe Blogs and Mick Sneed immediately become the equals of highly paid professionals from other fields. There is no logical reason for this to be the case.

Other professionals tend to get to where they are by years of study and/or hard work, which in itself is no guarantee of attaining this status. They also have to achieve results with a minimum of screw-ups. There is no comparison between them and someone who has managed to bullshit enough electors in his region to be voted in, or in most cases simply supported a leader who has done this on a larger scale. Politicians tend to have inflated opinions of their own importance and this guy is no exception to the rule.

There are two main types of politician that inhabit the Valhallaian halls of modern nanny state politics:

(1) The power-crazed authoritarian who believes in his own mind that he knows best what’s good for the rest of us, its he wants us, and we had bloody well better accept that, and:
(2) The simple minded altruistic twit especially the one who ‘feels for us’ and only wants the best for all of us and knows what that is. This one is generally led by the nose by (1).

The thought pattern of both were inadvertently penned by Don McLean in “American Pie:”

“And I knew if I had my chance:
That I could make those people dance:
And maybe they’d be happy for a while.”

Given that the professional will do whatever it takes to get into power and stay there, it is reasonable to assume that vote getting policies will have priority over less popular options that might be better for the nation. Perhaps the better option might be the person who at the end of a successful career doing something useful decides to enter this field in the hope of sorting out the mess the professional political class has gotten us into.

10 thoughts on “Pay politicians what they are worth.

  1. Perhaps we should pay people the pay-rate they were on before entering politics and set strict term limits.

  2. If you’re not financially competent enough to live quite comfortably on $133,804 + allowances a year then you’re not nearly financially competent enough to be given control of the reins of the economy.

    I’m inclined to support the idea of politicians actually not being paid (either at all, or anything beyond ‘allowances’ for various expenses). The main concern of this is that it may make them more bribe-able, but I suspect that if they’re complaining about $130K/y this won’t actually make much difference. The other concern is that it would exclude poor people, but if someone lacks both the financial skills to stop being poor and the social skills to convince their supporters to donate a living allowance then they should certainly not be allowed in Parliament.

  3. Politicians should be paid what they are worth to the productive economy, which is precisely $0. Like in New Hampshire, all politicians should be part-time (except during national emergencies such as wars), and should earn their living from sources outside the government.

  4. • Why do Politicians and government not have their innovative ideas to create our national pride, and dignity that in persuading people to build their own progressing economies rather servicing import economy? Such one of Health Economic model below that will fix their entire facial and mouth show problems?
    • What a joke of too many taxes collected and share $1.65 million each Politician spending including salary annually for? What a joke of too many taxes collected and channelling no less than $373millions for 226 federal Politicians in year 2010? If we are able to look back the past 36 years at least to show how major parties were playing boxing game to please all class of people to cast a yes vote during election time.

  5. Most of them would starve! (Come to think of it, we could all do with eating less, so this might be a good thing.)

  6. IF we still had a discussion section, I would be able to point out an item in today’s ‘The Australian’, mentioning that some scientists think that the sun is going through a cool phase, because of the low number of sunspots seen recently. the scientists think that global Warming is real, but has been masked by this effect. Some of them even think that we might be going into another minimum time, like the early eighteen-hundreds. It’s on the left-hand side of page 11, except, as we don’t have a discussion column, I can’t tell you! What a blow!

  7. I can readily understand the logic of the argument that says politicians should be paid nothing. However I can also understand the logic of paying them very handsomely such as in Singapore. I can also see some logic in the suggestion made by Shem that they should be paid in proportion to the salary they gave up on entering politics, although you may still wish to set an upper and lower limit. At the end of the day I don’t know if there is a specific correct answer to the question regarding what politicians should be paid. I can say that given what politicians are currently paid I am personally discouraged from further attempts to seek office. I certainly wouldn’t be doing it for material gain. And I would not enjoy the silly hours they work, nor the constant travel.

    If I had to suggest a scheme I would say that politicians should be paid some fixed multiple of the average Australian full time income. This would give them a great incentive to improve average Australian incomes and it would take some of the politics out of salary increases. I’d probably choose a multiple that doubles what they currently make.

  8. While the responders have rightly noted the general lack of worth and competence of our present 3-4000 pollies, no-one has provided a plan to attract those who presently run a successful (financial, strategic,intelligent,compassionate) business, profession or career into any political career path. When CEO’s of even disaster-ridden companies can attract multi-million incomes and senior bureaucrats can attract low 7 figure packages, why would you enter politics to listen to the rantings of one-eyed party hacks,learn and regurgitate all the backroom developed spin, accept abuse from the many brain-dead bogans in the electorate and smile at the loaded angry questions from a bunch of extremely rude reporters with an axe to grind.

    Yes,we need intelligent compassionate pollies aith a lot more common sense but no-one is going to leave a successful well paid career for $100,000 and a few crumbs.

    Harley W

  9. I can say that given what politicians are currently paid I am personally discouraged from further attempts to seek office. I certainly wouldn’t be doing it for material gain. And I would not enjoy the silly hours they work, nor the constant travel.

    I agree entirely. I know quite a few people who would be a vast improvement on our current crop of politicians but would never contemplate doing it because the pay is out of step with the demands of the job. The ones least affected are the young who don’t yet have a career, or the old whose career is ending.

    Is the answer to increase the pay, or reduce the demands? Perhaps try the latter – if the government did a lot less, there would be less for it to do. And if politicians and public servants did not feel compelled to constantly “do something”, they would have less to do.

  10. The answer is of course, to reduce the demands.

    It is hard to feel sorry for these peoples claims of excessive workload and such like when they have essentially created it themselves. If they were not attempting to micromanage every aspect of our lives and endeavors, life for them and all of us would be easier and simpler.

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