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State to vote on pollie pay rises

The Mercury, October 1, Matt Smith. Original article here.

TASMANIANS will be asked if they think state politicians deserve a pay increase.

And the matter is shaping as a major election issue, with a report into salaries expected to be presented within weeks of the March state poll.

Voters will get to say if they think their politicians deserve a pay rise for a report that will be compiled by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission.

The commission will release an issues paper today before advertising for public comments.

The report comes after Premier Lara Giddings and both Houses of Parliament headed off a recommended 38 per cent pay rise for state politicians in July last year.

House of Assembly MPs’ wages start at $148,480, up to $168,490, depending on electorates.

The commission has outlined a timetable for the salary investigation and is expected to release a discussion paper soon before public hearings in Burnie, Devonport, Launceston and Hobart next month. Other locations, such as the west and east coasts, will be considered if there is demand.

The report is expected to be completed by March or April next year — awkwardly either just before or after the expected March election.

It also comes as the State Government continues discussions about pay and conditions for 15,000 public sector workers for the next three years.

After legislating to cap salary increases at 2 per cent for the past few years, Tasmanian MPs could again be called on to reject a pay rise or face voter wrath on polling day.

If the commission recommends a pay rise, as some expect, a Will Hodgman-led government may face its first litmus test on fiscal responsibility just two weeks into a new administration.

Community and Public Sector Union general secretary Tom Lynch said politicians’ pay was shaping as an election issue.

“The CPSU has long held the view that as all those who serve the public in Tasmania — politicians and public sector workers — are all funded from the same source, it makes sense that they should all have their wage outcomes determined through the same process,” he said.

“The easiest way to achieve this would be to have Tasmanian politicians’ wages linked to a level in the main public sector award.”

Tasmanian Governor Peter Underwood has sent an order to the tribunal investigating the matter — chairman Tim Abey, Nicole Wells and Barbara Deegan — outlining the terms of the expected report.

He has asked the tribunal to determine the basic salary for MPs and establish whether their entitlements and benefits “remain appropriate to the contemporary needs of such Members”.

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