The move to cut what Treasurer Tim Pallas called “back office” costs angered the state’s public sector union, which compared the Treasurer’s rhetoric to the language used by previous Victorian Liberal governments that have cut public sector spending when elected.
Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Karen Batt said the 2.5 per cent increase should be applied equally to the departmental workforce that support the work of the Premier and his ministers.
“Anything else looks hypocritical,” she said.
An Andrews government spokesman said the pay decision was “a matter for the [tribunal]”.
The remuneration tribunal said the pay jump amounted to a 1.25 per cent pay rise between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021 because no changes were made to wages in the tribunal’s 2020 decision.
“Taking into account the legislative factors it is required to consider, the tribunal has decided to increase the values of the basic salary, additional salaries and expense allowance by 2.5 per cent for 2021-22,” its decision said.
“The average increase in an MP’s basic salary between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022 will be 1.25 per cent, which is generally consistent with wages policy.
“Further, the state’s economic outlook is expected to improve, for example, Victoria’s GSP [gross state product] is expected to grow by 6.5 per cent.”
Ministers and Liberal leader Michael O’Brien will now receive about $343,000.
Opposition frontbencher Tim Smith said his party would discuss whether to use Parliamentary procedure to block the pay rise.
Both he and Mr O’Brien said they could donate the additional salary to charity if the boost was not able to be stopped in Parliament.
“Every time a Victorian pays a low-level speeding fine, pays thousands of dollars in stamp duty, when they pay payroll tax, when they pay all the different taxes and charges to the state government, realise this: you’re paying for Labor’s obscene politicians’ pay rise,” he said.
Mr Smith also questioned the independence of the tribunal which was created by the Andrews government, claiming it was probable that senior figures in the government had back-channel discussions with the tribunal.
He said the timing of the announcement, late on Friday afternoon, was proof the process was “dodgy”.
Many of the state’s 128 MPs make more than the base salary because they hold official positions such as chairing a committee or being a whip responsible for voting procedures. These positions can earn MPs between $7000 and $33,000 in additional yearly income.
Labor MPs pledged to donate their pay increases to charity last April after criticism that it would not have been appropriate to accept a pay rise during the pandemic-induced recession. However, this pledge was attacked because donations are tax-deductible.
Federal MPs were denied a pay rise this month by the federal remuneration tribunal.
In December, the remuneration tribunal denied state MPs access to a historical pension scheme that would have netted some of them annual payments of more than $100,000 for the duration of their retirement.
Some serving Labor MPs argued they were not compensated as handsomely in retirement as members elected before 2004, when a pension system was in place.
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