Not Enough to Keep Some in Politics, Despite Recent Increase

Not Enough to Keep Some in Politics, Despite Recent Increase

Not Enough to Keep Some in Politics

Several West Australian MPs are choosing not to run in the upcoming state election, citing insufficient pay as a contributing factor. This comes despite a recent 4% salary increase for state MPs, on top of an additional $1,000 motor vehicle allowance.

The base salary for a backbencher is now $173,393, while senior politicians like Premier Roger Cook earn $392,584. This is significantly higher than the average full-time weekly earnings in WA of $2,108.

However, some argue that the pay is still not enough to attract and retain qualified individuals. Professor Margaret Seares, chair of the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal, acknowledges that the job of a politician is "relatively unstable and unforgiving," with long hours and limited privacy.

This is reflected in the experiences of people like Michelle, who chose not to pursue a career in politics due to the significant pay cut and job insecurity. She notes that politicians often face difficulty securing mortgages and experience a drop in income compared to private sector jobs.

The recent pay rise puts WA MPs ahead of their counterparts in New South Wales, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. However, public sector unions are pushing for a 12% increase over two years to address wage suppression and inflation.

The 4% increase for top public servants, including the Police Commissioner and Under Treasurer, has also raised concerns. Some argue that this acknowledges the attraction and retention issues faced by high-level public servants while neglecting similar concerns for those in lower-paid positions.

Overall, the issue of MP pay in WA highlights the challenges of attracting and retaining qualified individuals to public service roles, particularly when compared to potentially more lucrative opportunities in the private sector.