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Thu, Sep 21st 9:49am 2006: Politics

I just came across an interesting blog post by Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett where he talks about the ethical conundrum of voting on your own pay rise. He says that "politicians are already paid well enough" and dismisses the claim that it takes high levels of remuneration to attract good people to become politicians, but pointed out something I didn't know previously: the pay scale of Parliamentarians is tied to a specific public service pay category, and so they weren't just voting on their own pay rise: if they'd opposed it, they'd also have been opposing a pay rise for a much larger group of public servants. Suddenly the ethical dilemma becomes a bit more complicated. Of course there are always alternative solutions, and if the MPs had actually felt bad enough about paying themselves three times as much as the average income earner they could have voted to increase the pay scale on that public service pay category (thus giving other public servants a raise they may well deserve) while simultaneously decoupling their own pay rate from that pay category. Or how about my more radical solution: the pay scale for politicians should be linked to the average income for all Australians. If they can't survive on that: bad luck. All the more incentive to improve the performance of the nation as a whole.

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