By ERWIN CHLANDA
In case your heart’s been breaking over politicians freezing their pay, this will bring you some relief.
Gunner: Lots more staff.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner gets $312,756 a year, not counting electoral and other allowances.
You might think it excessive that Prime Minister Scott Morrison takes home so much more – around $550,000.
But this puts the issue into perspective: Per constituent (211,945 souls), Mr Gunner gets $1.48, while ScoMo (24,600,000 souls) has to get by with 2.2 cents.
A lowly Member of the NT Legislative Assembly gets $156,387 base pay, exactly half of what the “Chief” pockets.
But things are looking up when she or he takes on what’s called a “prescribed office”.
That adds $125,102 to the Deputy Chief Minister’s basic pay, making it $281,480.
The extra work – perhaps better described as position – adds $101,645 (minister or Opposition Leader) or $23,456 (whip).
A Member who holds more than one prescribed office is not entitled to cumulative additional salaries of office. The highest additional salary of office applies.
Federal MPs and Senators have a base salary of $211,242.
All this may make pensioners on $19,500 a year scratch their heads when they read statements from NT Treasurer Nicole Manison such as this: “Territorians expect that politicians and senior executives will do their fair share of the heavy lifting to repair the budget.
“That’s why we have frozen politicians’ pay and it’s why we are implementing a pay freeze for all ECOs.”
Ms Manison was having a shot at “CLP Leader Gary Higgins and former CLP Treasurer Robyn Lambley” – now the Independent Member for Araluen – who “are determined to fight for an increase in their pay packages.
“They should do the right thing and put Territorians first – not their own pay packets,” thundered the Treasurer, presiding over a deficit of around $4bn she had a key role in creating.
The Opposition and Ms Lambley can be forgiven for looking for a pay rise.
Firstly, they haven’t brought about the record deficit and secondly, they are absurdly understaffed.
The Government has nine media advisers, at pays ranging from $117,605 to $131,382.
The Opposition has one, and the five independents, none, yet they are expected to be up to speed with all government business, and keep the public informed at the same level as the rulers on the treasury benches.
Says Ms Lambley: “We have no staff at all. The Legislative Assembly employs two research officers to assist us with specific pieces of work on demand – by application.
“We have to email them with a proposal and they respond.
“Then we negotiate a timeline. It is beyond ridiculous.
“The two members of the Opposition have 11 staff including a media advisor.
“The Independents are the cheapest and most efficient Members of Parliament.
“We have actually proven that you can function with no staff, although all of us would agree that with help we would do our jobs a whole lot better,” says Ms Lambley.
“For example in the Estimates, the Opposition have folders of prepared questions.
“I have scraps of paper from discussions and meetings I have had with people.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA