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Politicians in line for three pay rises in 12 months, getting bigger every time

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Queensland MPs had their salaries frozen during the pandemic, just like public servants, but the big thaw may be coming.

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The independent Remuneration Tribunal has taken issue with the fact Queensland politicians have not had a pay rise since September 2017 and in that time their interstate colleagues have been getting further ahead.

In a determination tabled in State Parliament today, the tribunal suggested the economy was strong enough for Queensland taxpayers to reward their elected representatives more for their work. If the recommendations are accepted, it could cost the budget millions of dollars more each year.

“While the economic forecast and outlook continue to remain uncertain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that the economy is rebounding, and the outlook is more positive than at the height of the pandemic in 2020 when the salary levels of members were last considered by the tribunal,” the tribunal submitted.

Last year, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had to write to the tribunal to request a pay freeze, and had the rare support of then opposition leader Deb Frecklington. The tribunal agreed – although chairman Walter Tutt formally registered his dissent – and there was speculation the freeze could last for up to four years.

But the tribunal has now recommended a series of increases for base and additional salary rates in the coming years: 2 per cent on 1 September 2021, 2.25 per cent on 1 March 2022, and 2.5 per cent from 1 September 2022.

For a backbencher on a base salary alone, that would delivery an extra $7,801 annually by the middle of the parliamentary term. For committee members, whips, Opposition spokespeople, leaders, and ministers, there would be even more for their added responsibilities. At the very top, the Premier’s salary would increase from $399,955 to $427,561, which is still less than the Victorian and NSW premiers are paid now.

In making its recommendations, the tribunal also considered the inflation rate, unemployment rate, jobs growth figures, and the government indexation rates.

The pay freeze for public servants was more of a deferral, with some negotiated pay rises set to double in 2022, after Labor’s long-held wages policy of 2.5 per cent annual growth.

A government spokesman was not immediately available to comment. Treasurer Cameron Dick, who will hand down the budget on May 15, previously vowed to avoid spending more money on politicians, however that was in relation to upgrades to the parliamentary annex.

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