Tuesday June 27, 2017

The Pay Rise Qld MPs Had To Have

Written by David Marler
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The pay rise Qld MPs had to have

#PayRort: Campbell Newman has received another pay rise of $70k as MPs pocket $3 million in back pay.



The pay rise Qld MPs had to have

#PayRort: Campbell Newman has received another pay rise of $70k as MPs pocket $3 million in back pay.



Introduction To #PayRort

Over 15 months, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman made such fuss over Queensland's finances.

Austerity was implemented. Public servants made redundant. Services cancelled or scaled back. Belts were tightened.

Then came the pollie pay rise.

Remember, this pay increase is for all 89 members of the Queensland parliament; LNP, ALP, KAP and the Independents.

So how did this come about?

It seems former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh gets the blame. In 2009, during difficult GFC related economic circumstances, she froze pay rises for MPs.

As state MP pay rises are linked to their Queensland Federal MP gains, a pay rise in Canberra flows onto Brisbane. The only caveat is that base salary should be $500 less than federal counterparts.

With Premier Campbell Newman on leave, it was left to Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney to explain.

After an in depth investigation by the Newman Government, Crown law advised that the increase must be granted to the tune of a $57,000. A MP's base salary goes from $137k to $194.  On top of that comes bonuses for various ministries, roles and parliamentary committee work.

The Guardian's Nick Evershed reported that Queensland state MPs were now the highest paid in Australia.

Politically, it was an ill timed announcement from the Newman Government. A series of increased cost of living expenses such as levies, duties and a 22% hike in electricity prices commenced on the very same day.
9 News Brisbane’s Shane Doherty reports on DP Jeff Seeney announcement  
"Everyone that has received payment from the Queensland Parliament from 2009 has a backpay entitlement," Mr Seeney told the media.

It would also be legal for all former MPs to claim pay entitlements.

"I'm appealing to them not to make those claims."
The Newman Government also announced that electoral allowances would be halved to pay for the increases. Whilst this would satisfy the party faithful, the electorate wasn't buying it.

The Twitterazzi gallery in #qldpol erupted in a chorus of protest.

As Ten News Queensland's Max Futcher reported, "Dollars meant for the electorate go into politicians pockets instead."

As ABC News Queensland's Chris O'Brien reported, the simple solution seemed to be to sever Federal MP pay from State MP pay.

However, Queensland's Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie was non-committal.

  To pay for the MP rise, electoral allowances have been halved.10 News Queensland’s Max Futcher reports.
Brisbane Times reporter, Amy Remeikis wrote; Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie also admitted on Tuesday the government did not investigate alternatives before awarding the increase.

He also told the media that any move to retrospective laws was not on.

"We think retrospective legislation is repugnant."

This is despite the Newman Government's late night changes to industrial relations laws. Himself and Premier Campbell Newman we also very quick to move on repealing Queensland's new civil union laws.
  Pay Rise ABC

Police Minister, Jack Dempsey said, "We have to follow what the law says."

Notorious for his school closure program, Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said, "We've got to stick to the laws of the land as they are."
7 News Brisbane's Amanda Abate reports  
7 News Brisbane's Amanda Abate reported that Queensland firefighters had been asking for a 3-4% wage increase for over a year.

The Qld MP pay rise amounts to a total of $5 million of immediate taxpayer funds. Enough to employ 99 new police officers, 92 nurses or 98 firefighters or combination thereof.
As for the absent Premier Campbell Newman, the Sergeant Shultz defence was being prepared.

Brisbane Times
reporter, Amy Remeikis wrote that Premier Campbell Newman had not been made aware of the Crown law advice.

Mr Bleijie said Mr Newman was not told about the Crown law advice.

“The legal advice came through on Friday, we have an acting premier, Cabinet considered the matter on Monday and dealt with it on Monday,” Mr Bleijie said.
A reply letter from Premier Campbell Newman to a concerned West End man showing that he was aware of the pending pay rise. Click to enlarge.  
On 24 June 2013, in a reply letter obtained by Greenshack, a local Brisbane man was informed by Premier Newman that MP wage increase would not be enormous.

He wrote:

'While a determination about when Queensland MPs will next receive a salary increase has not been made, I have stated that if MPs were to receive an increase then the level of that increase should be within the boundaries of what the Government is asking public sector employees to accept.'

'Any determination about proposed future salary increases for Queensland MPs will be made following the Government's consideration of a wide range of factors, including the State's financial position.

This letter correlates with an earlier piece published in The Courier Mail on 18th August, 2012 by Robyn Ironside and Tanya Chilcott. It was reported that Premier Newman had the paperwork for the Qld MP rise ready to sign but was waiting until after the 2012 State budget to grant it.

He never signed it.

While there is no current evidence to suggest Premier Newman knew about the Crown law advice, it would seem his ministers never received the above directions.

It would also seem to suggest he was never in touch with Bleijie or Seeney during this weeks decision involving millions of taxpayer dollars.

In an odd twist, disgraced former LNP MP Scott Driscoll decided to release a statement vowing to fight the pay rise upon his return to parliament.

'I will ask them to vote with me... to right this wrong and restore the faith of Queenslanders in us on this important issue.'

Not many will be holding their breath for this.

'The finances are in a very bad state'. This cliche Queenslanders have been hearing for the past 15 months now seems null and void.
  In an odd twist, Former LNP MP Scott Driscoll vows to fight the pay increase upon his return to parliament. ABC News Qld.

We pay MPs to make laws to govern us. However, in this case it would appear impossible for them to make any sort of change.

Seems legit.

The only real solution, we citizen journalists see is for Qld MPs to take the pay rise.  Each one should work out what they need to live on and make regular payments to registered charities from their electorate.

Redistribute the wealth.

Keep it open and accountable, let the media know but don't use it as a stunt. Register where the money is going, let the clerk of parliament know if you're helping constituents out with a power bill.

Newman unaware of advice to increase MPs' pay

'Newman unaware of advice to increase MPs' pay'

Pay rise for politicians delayed until 20,000 public servants are sacked

'Pay rise for politicians delayed until 20,000 public servants are sacked'

A crime not to take a pay rise, Mr Premier?

'A crime not to take a pay rise, Mr Premier?'

Queensland MPs are highest-paid state politicians after pay rise

'Queensland MPs are highest-paid state politicians after pay rise'


Ch1 Rejecting The Pay Rise

Rejecting The Pay Rise: 5th July 2013


Queensland Leader of the Opposition, Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that the ALP will not support the pay rise.

Queensland MP, Jackie Trad has refused the pay rise and written to Clerk of the Parliament, Neil Laurie to ask him to withhold the increase in her pay. If this is not possible, she has asked the money be placed in a community benefit fund.
  AG Jarrod Bleijie says rejecting MP pay rise is ‘opportunistic politics’.
AG Jarrod Bleijie says rejecting MP pay rise is 'opportunistic politics'.

Some MPs have said they need the pay increase on electorate expenses as allowances have been cut.The KAP's Rob Katter told ABC News Queensland's Chris O'Brien that, "I have no desire to have a pay increase but bloomin' hell I need to get around my electorate."

"Every one of us should be up in arms."

Labor won't support pay rise for MPs

'Labor won't support pay rise for MPs'


Ch2 The Clerk of Parliament's Warning

The Clerk of Parliament's Warning: 5th July 2013

Brisbane Times reporter, Amy Remeikis has published an article with allegations that Premier Newman was advised as early as April 2012 by the Clerk of Parliament, Neil Laurie about the impending problems with Queenland's MP pay scale.

"Given the extent of the review undertaken by the Remuneration Tribunal and the size of the increase to the base salary of federal members, I think it is unlikely that the government would want this increase to flow on to Queensland members," Mr Laurie wrote in a letter dated on 13 April 2012.

"Further, it is also noted that the Commonwealth Renumeration Tribunal commented in its report that any linkages between state and federal salaries should be severed as they are no longer appropriate."The clerk produced four options, including severing the salaries from the federal rate and instead linking MP pays to that of a senior public service executive.

Mr Laurie also suggests establishing a state remuneration tribunal for MPs.

LNP ignored advice against pay rise

'LNP ignored advice against pay rise'


Ch3 The Cabinet Briefing Note

The Cabinet Briefing Note: 6th July 2013

Madonna King from The Couier Mail has reported that a 2012 Newman Government cabinet briefing note outlined a plan to address the MP pay rise problem by removing the link to their Qld Federal counterparts. The proposal went on to suggest linking Qld MP pay increases to public servant increases; that being the nearest rate in the Senior Executive Service.

Acting Premier Jeff Seeney has admitted that the Newman Government should have acted sooner on the proposal.

''In hindsight we should have sought the Crown law advice when we received that letter from the clerk,'' he told the paper.

''But at that time the Government had a great many other priorities. We were very newly elected and we were trying to deal with a whole range of priorities that would confront a new government.''

The Newman Government spent most of 2012 achieving its target of making 14,000 Queensland public servants redundant.

Queensland Government likely to link politicians pay to rises given to public servants

'Queensland Government likely to link politicians pay to rises given to public servants'


Ch4 LNP MP for Cairns, Gavin King Backtracks

LNP MP for Cairns, Gavin King Backtracks: 6th July 2013

The Cairns Post has reported that LNP MP for Cairns, Gavin King has pledged to pay a portion of his $57,000 pay rise to local charities in his electorate.

Initially, King had refused to comment to the paper on the MP pay rise fiasco unless they ran a separate favourable story about his recent meeting with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. A favour for comment arrangement.

The Cairn's Post refused to enter into the deal.

King's vow came a day later after public pressure over social media.

The paper has so far not published the PNG story.

State MPs vow to forgo pay windfall

'State MPs vow to forgo pay windfall'

MP Gavin King pledges to pay portion of $57,000 pay rise to charity

'MP Gavin King pledges to pay portion of $57,000 pay rise to charity'


Ch5 Pay Rise For Public Service Blocked As Protests Begin

Pay Rise For Public Service Blocked As Protests Begin: 8th July 2013

In another shocking revelation, The Courier Mail's Robyn Ironside has reported that the Newman Government initiated Supreme court proceedings to block an interim pay rise for Queensland public servants on the same day as they announced a 41% MP pay rise.

Last month, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) had ruled in favour of Together Queensland in granting the raise.

The Queensland Remuneration Tribunal had awarded Queensland MPs their pay rise last week.

Having just received a 41% increase himself, Minister Assisting the Premier, Glen Elmes said, "The government remains ready and willing to negotiate around a 2.2 per cent wage rise for core public servants."

Newman Government heads to Supreme Court in bid to block pay rise for public servants

'Newman Government heads to SupremeCourt in bid to block pay rise for public servants'

Opinion - Sal Piracha 'Newmania: The 41%ers'

Opinion - Sal Piracha 'Newmania: The 41%ers'

Opinion - Paul Syvret 'Political hypocrisy on pay is indecent'

Opinion - Paul Syvret 'Political hypocrisy on pay is indecent'

Protestors lined up outside the Executive Building in Brisbane today as Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams addressed the crowd.  ABC reporters, Chris O'Brien and

"A Government which since being elected has preached austerity, slashed, burned... pay rises of 2 per cent for its own employees."

Demonstrators chanted, "LNP listen up, Queensland has had enough!"

Acting Premier Jeff Seeney told the media that it would be 'absurd not to implement the 42% pay rise.

"No one has had the courage to do it up until now."
   Acting Premier Jeff Seeney says “No one has had the courage to do it up until now.” Ten News Queensland’s Cathy Border reports
When asked why the announcement was made while Premier Newman was on leave, Seeney said, ""It would have been cowardly of me to wait until Campbell comes back."

He had spoken to Newman and he "understood the decisions we had taken and he was in agreement with them".

'Absurd' not to raise MPs' pay: Seeney

'Absurd' not to raise MPs' pay: Seeney'

#PayRort Shane Doherty from 9 News Brisbane reported that Premier Campbell Newman was made aware and supported the pay rise.  
Shane Doherty from 9 News Brisbane reported that Premier Campbell Newman was aware of the pay rise and was in support.

Acting Premier Jeff Seeney said, "He understood the decisions that we'd taken and he was in agreement of them."

At a doorstop LNP MP Steve Dickson said, "I think politicians are worth what they get paid every day of the week just as journalists are worth what they get paid every day of the week."
Fairfax and Ten News Queensland raw footage of PayRort protest outside Executive Building, Brisbane.
#PayRort Protest
  #PayRort Fairfax journalist Amy Remeikis snaps a picture of the fake protest money


Ch6 'No Idea' Seeney

'No Idea' Seeney: 9th July 2013

To make everything worse, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed that Premier Campbell Newman's new take home salary would be $398,271 a raise of $117,623.

It would make him the highest paid Premier in the country and only $2000 behind the salary of US President Barack Obama.
Premier's pay will rival Obama's

'Premier's pay will rival Obama's'

   ‘No idea’. Jeff Seeney didn’t realise the amount of pay he would take home. Network Ten’s Cathy Border reports

Shortly after, Acting Premier Jeff Seeney stammered out a response to the media that he had no idea of the size of his own take home pay which rose $101,189 to a salary of $342,625.

"I.. I.. did.. I had no idea what the... what the calculation would be. I had no idea what the sums would add up to."

LNP MP for Ipswich West, Sean Choat released a statement saying, "No one consulted me. This is not the time for pay rises. We should have waited until the books were in the black."

9 News Brisbane’s Shane Doherty explained more on the increase for ministers & committe members.   9 News Brisbane's Shane Doherty explained more about the increased rises for ministers, chairs and committee members.

Aware of his base salary rise, Transport Minister Scott Emerson was however, unaware of his ministerial top up.

"I wasn't aware of any linkages between that... I've only been a minister for a year and a half."

Seeney also kicked off the 'blame labor game' by pointing the finger at the former Premier.

"It illustrates the mess that Anna Bligh left."

He did indicate that a change would be made when parliament returned in August.


Ch7 Acting Premier Jeff Seeney Must Have Known

Acting Premier Jeff Seeney Must Have Known: 10th July 2013

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told Brisbane Times reporter Amy Remeikis that Acting Premier Jeff Seeney would have had to have known about the full extent of the MP pay rise and called for his dismissal.

Ms Palaszczuk said last Friday's Government Gazette revealed the extent of the pay rise and any claim to the contrary was "complete and utter lies".

"The deputy premier knew exactly what it meant, this cabinet knew exactly how they would benefit from this atrocious decision," Ms Palaszczuk said.
   #PayRort: Qld LNP MPs refused to speak to the media and referred all questions to Premier Newman due back tomorrow.  Cathy Border Ten News Qld
With the pay increase now hitting MP back accounts, LNP MPs spent the day dodging the media or referring any questions to Premier Newman who was due back in a day.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk says he’ll wait for Premier Newman.Ten News Qld’s Max Futcher reports    Over in Brisbane city hall, the media had caught up with LNP Lord Mayor Graham Quirk who occupied the seat vacated by Campbell Newman.

Brisbane councilor pay was linked to Qld State MP pay rises. It would mean an extra $90,000 in the mayor's pay packet, bumping him up to a salary of $315,000.

Quirk told the media he would also wait for Premier Newman's return.
The revelation also angered Brisbane bus drivers who, like state public servants, had been locked in pay disputes with the council.

Strike action was now planned.
MP pay rise: Seeney incompetent or a liar, says Palaszczuk

'MP pay rise: Seeney incompetent or a liar, says Palaszczuk'


Ch8 I Blame Labor Party (IBL)

I Blame Labor Party (IBL): 11th July 2013

Returning from leave, Premier Campbell Newman bounced into a media conference mid-afternoon and miraculously declared that he had fixed the MP pay rise problems.

"I'm sorry that this had happened in this way," he informed Queensland.

The media conference had escalated to the national media scene as was broadcast live on ABCNews24.
  Premier Newman returns from leave and announces a tribunal to decide on Qld MP pay scales. 9 News Brisbane’s Shane Doherty reports
As the MP's pay rises had hit bank accounts, they would stay in place until August when Parliament resumed. At that time, the nexus between the Queensland MPs and their Federal counterparts would be severed.

A tribunal of three would then work out MP pay rises going forward. This is to consist of Professor Tim Brailsford from Bond University, Union boss Dave Harrison and CEO of NGO Multicap Group Joanne Jessop.

"Like most politicians, I didn't go into this job chasing a pay packet, I assure Queenslanders of that," Premier Newman stated.

Newman defended Acting Premier Jeff Seeney's decision to grant the MP pay rise, stating that it was, "In accordance with the law."
Premier Campbell Newman exonerated Acting Premier Jeff Seeney and blamed former ALP Premiers Beattie and Bligh for the problem.
Premier Newman blamed the former Beattie and Bligh Labor governments for the situation that had been created.

"It was the law that they, and indeed the government has inherited from the Beattie-Bligh era. During that period a decision was taken by the former Labor government to create a nexus or connection between the pay of state parliamentarians and the federal parliament that has caused the current problem."
The I Blame Labor Party is a well oiled machine in Queensland.

No mention of the link from Qld State MP pay back to Brisbane City Council of which Premier Newman was formally mayor.

However, when asked why he had left it so long to take action, Premier Newman told the media it was not urgent.

"The reason that I personally did nothing about this for sixteen months was because it was not a priority."

It remains to be seen what the tribunal of three will grant MPs by way of a pay scale. It may go up, down or remain the same.

One more MP payment at the high level is due to hit bank accounts withing two weeks time, before parliament can resume.
  “The reason that I personally did nothing about this for 16 months was because it was not a priority.” 7 News Brisbane’s Patrick Condren reports.


Ch9 What They Knew: A Question of Trust

What They Knew: A Question of Trust: 17th July 2013

According to documents prepared for Premier Campbell Newman, the proposal of a Queensland MP Remuneration Tribunal was rejected in August, 2012.

Brisbane Times reporter, Amy Remeikis established that Premier Newman's director-general for department of Premier and Cabinet, Jon Grayson had advised that the establishment of such a body would be too expensive to maintain.

“Furthermore, if such a tribunal was established and its determinations were binding, the government and the parliament could not easily review or alter any determination should it be felt that the determination was not in keeping with community standards,” Mr Grayson wrote.

His recommendation was to link the MP salaries to those of the public service as had all ready been done in the states of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

The April 2012 letter from Clerk of Parliament Neil Laurie also presented a range of options. Records show Mr Grayson worked through each of these and acknowledged that the MP pay link to public service was the best.

It was also revealed at the Queensland budget estimates hearing this week that Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney signed a briefing note on July 3rd, 2013.  The note detailed the nature of the pay rise to MPs, Ministers, parliamentary committee members and their staff. As he was Acting Premier at the time, his signature allowed the pay increase to progress.

However, on July 9th, DP Seeney told the media that he had no idea about the extent of the pay rise.

It appears that the pay rise problem was known extensively throughout the Newman Government and it is very hard to argue that the Premier and DP Seeney did not know the full extent to which they were acting upon it.

On this issue, it now comes down to a question of trust in the two men from the Queensland people.
Campbell Newman ignored pay advice

'Campbell Newman ignored pay advice'


Ch10 From 42% down to 9%

On August 6th 2013, Premier Newman introduced legislation to allow  the tribunal to review MP pay. He informed the house that it would have 10 weeks to report back with submissions open to the public.

By 19th September, it was reported that 2,500 submissions had been received.  However, these would not be released to the general public until the new pay structure was finalised.

  The August 6, 2013 pay rise protest

Newman tables bill to reverse MPs' pay rise

'Newman tables bill to reverse MPs' pay rise'

Qld MPs' pay tribunal receives thousands of submissions

'Qld MPs' pay tribunal receives thousands of submissions'

Several days before the tribunal was due to deliver, The Courier Mail reported on the high pay increases for Queensland's top public servants up to 20%.

The Premier's Director-General Jon Grayson's salary had risen from $574,000 to $687,000. Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young rose 7% to $564,000. This was in stark contrast to the 2.5% restriction on the general public service.

No doubt, behind closed doors the huge disparity between a Minister's salary & his/her D-G was an ongoing source of party room friction.
Fat salaries no problem for Queensland Government's top bureaucrats

'Fat salaries no problem for Queensland Government's top bureaucrats'

On Tuesday, October 15th 2013, the tribunal delivered a 9% general MP pay rise to replace the Jeff Seeney planned 42%.  It was also 'Anti-poverty' week.

The base salary for all MPs rose to $149,000. The tribunal also abolished 30 categories from MP allowances, limiting to three; electorate work, communications and travel.

The Premier's salary moved from $280,648 to $292,347. Backpay was limited to current MPs and only applicable from July 1 2013.

Tribunal chair Professor Tim Brailsford told the media, "We had a legislative duty to go and ensure that the allowance system was not seen as de facto salary."

He also commented that, "Associated with this, Queensland MPs are amongst the lowest paid in the country."

With Brailsford's endorsement, it seemed MPs were always going to win.
Tribunal rules Qld MPs to get $12K a year pay rise

'Tribunal rules Qld MPs to get $12K a year pay rise'

Politicians get 9 per cent pay rise

'Politicians get 9 per cent pay rise'

A month later, on November 15th 2013, the tribunal was back to announce changes to meal allowances.

MPs would be entitled to a $105-a-day meal allowance. State Parliament was all ready providing taxpayer-subsidised meals for a low as $4.20.  Buffet breakfast costs $6.65 and a three course meal is $10.55.

Eighty of the non-Brisbane based MPs who are provided with free accommodation in the parliamentary annexe, would now also be eligible to claim a $315 daily travel allowance to a third of the cost as the remaining nine city based MPs are entitled to.

The daily travel allowance was increased from $305 to $315.  This payment was in addition to general travel allowance of between $18,360 and $61,720, which covers costs of travel from electorates to Parliament.
Queensland politicians to get $105-a-day meal allowance along with more perks

'Queensland politicians to get $105-a-day meal allowance along with more perks'

The tribunal had found some ways to compensate MPs for their work. However, there was more to come in the new year.


Ch 11 - Pay day

As Christmas descended on the Queen's land, thoughts of MP pay rises faded into the background. However, by March 27 2014, the people were once again dismayed as the tribunal returned with a second MP pay rise.

During the first round, salary for the Premier had only in creased by $11,700. Now it was pay day for Campbell Newman. His pay would now jump $70,000, a grand total of $81,700 since taking office. Total renumeration was set at $380,000.

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