Senator Penny Wong has said she would not ‘take issue’ with politicians’ wages being cut in solidarity with Australians battling through the coronavirus downturn.
Ministers in New Zealand agreed to a 20 per cent cut on Wednesday but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said paycuts were ‘not being considered’ in Australia.
Ms Wong, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said she would not complain if MPs were told to cut their $211,000 salaries.
Senator Penny Wong has said she would not ‘take issue’ with politicians’ wages being cut
‘That’s not something I’d take issue with,’ she told ABC Radio Adelaide on Thursday.
‘I think it’s very, very difficult for politicians to discuss their own pay and I just would rather this was dealt with by someone independent.’
MPs wages in Australia
As at 1 July 2019, the base salary of federal MPs is $211,250 per annum. This is before travel allowance and electorate entitlements.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison gets $549,250.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is on $433,063.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is paid $396,094.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is also Leader of the Government in the Senate, gets $396,094.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is on $390,813
On Wednesday New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ministers in her government and public service chief executives agreed to take a 20 per cent pay cut for the next six months.
Ms Ardern said the decision was made in solidarity with New Zealanders who had lost jobs and income as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg dismissed calls for Australian politicians to follow suit.
Asked by reporters if politicians should take a pay cut, he simply said: ‘We have frozen the pay increases for politicians here and for public servants.’
Later Scott Morrison told Perth radio station 6RP that paycuts were ‘not being considered’.
On April 2 Mr Morrison said he was not considering cutting his hefty $549,250 salary which comes out of taxpayers’ pockets.
The government and central bank are spending more than $300billion on measures to shore up the creaking economy, which will saddle Australia with debt for years to come.
One way to save money to pay back debts would be to reduce the wage bill in the public sector, including politicians.
Prime Minster Scott Morrison was asked if he was considering reforming franking credits or cutting ministers’ salaries.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured), ministers in her government and public service chief executives will take a 20 per cent pay cut for the next six months
Mr Morrison replied: ‘No, we’re not reconsidering franking credits and these sort of things.’
Franking credits are a tax rebate to shareholders who get dividends, including retirees. Labor pledged to scrap them in the 2019 election campaign, and that policy was identified as one which cost the party an election it was expected to win.
Dozens of high-earning figures in the private sector have vowed to take pay cuts.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, whose base salary is $2.1million, has said he will not take a penny of his salary as long as coronavirus lasts.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, who earns $1.2million, will take a 25 per cent pay cut – and has said he will sacrifice more if the players have their salaries cut further.
Politicians, judges and officials holding senior public office have had their pay frozen until the crisis is over – but some commentators say the freeze is not enough.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, whose base salary is $2.1 million, has said he will not take a penny of his salary as long as coronavirus lasts
John Roskam, Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs, said: ‘Not all this extra spending has to be new money and debt. There should be a 20 per cent reduction in public service pay until the crisis is over.
‘There needs to be a sense of shared sacrifice from the public service. We have seen a disconnect of bureaucrat elites from the productive economy.’
In late March One Nation leader Pauline Hanson demanded politicians take a pay cut.
‘I have no problems with politicians wages being cut back in areas, and I’m happy to tell the Prime Minister where to start,’ she said.
The base salary for a federal MP is $211,250.
Ms Hanson also said politicians’ perks should be removed, such as flying business class instead of economy and that committee payments should cease.
Last month Malta’s Prime Minister said he would forgo a month’s salary to send a message to the nation that he was also making sacrifices during the pandemic.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, who earns $1.2million, will take a 25 per cent pay cut – and has said he will sacrifice more if the players have their salaries cut further