Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Class of politician

Listening to the fantastic Fran Kelly this morning interviewing a MP on the reduction of the printing allowance and MP's salary in general. It was put to this MP whether $120G was enough to lure talented people into politics. The MP mentioned a number of talented people had turned down going for the safe seat of Bradfield because of the pay. So does that mean the only people worth attracting into politics are ones who think $120G is not enough to leave the private sector for public life. Is anyone in federal parliment now on more money than they were previously?

I wonder all the time about the people in politics. Are they really a representative of us, how many teachers, miners and plumbers are there in federal parliment. If all we have representing us are party political animals, unionists and executives who think $120G is a paycut, how can they write policy for the rest of us little people.

Lantanaland from the iPhone


  1. Professional politicians can never be representative of us in the same way that professional sportspeople aren't representative of the cities their teams represent - completely insulated from what we see as the real world. As to what they get paid, this is a double edged problem. Noone wants politicians to get paid elephant bucks, least of all in Australia where they're generally reviled. Problem is though if you were looking to fill a management or admin role with equivalent responsibilities to (say) a cabinet minister, you'd be asking for a hell of a lot more than a cabinet minister's salary. Politicians' pay and perks were under the spotlight here in NZ recently, I remember the most prominent current affairs host in NZ beginning his show one night with 'Are politicians paid too much?' Which was a bit fucking rich considering he'd be getting paid five to ten times as much as the prime minister just for reading an autocue with vertical hair. The captain of the All Blacks gets paid more than the PM, as would Peter Jackson or Anna Paquin. Granted any of the above would be more interesting company than the Keymaster, who appears ferociously dull, but any of those kids actually running the country?

    Not that the Keymaster needs anyone to weep for him - ironically he was a self-made millionaire before politics through his finance career with Merrill Lynch.

  2. If all we are after is management executives, then get rid of MPs, elect a president who then hires a team of executives to
    run the business "Australia".

  3. I don't think it's a question of where they start out but rather where they end up. Pollies who can be compassionate, empathetic and fair and incorporate this into their jobs of looking out for us are worth paying mega bucks to, no matter if they were a plumber or a CEO before that. Conversely, if they are screwing someone old enough to be their daughter and who is not their wife instead of working maybe they shouldn't be paid at all! ie. It's not a matter of getting paid too much it's a matter of doing too little...

  4. You should exchange 'class' for 'pedigree' in the title. In the end, they're all dogs that chase bones.

  5. If you look at the bios of MPs on the APH website, you'll see that the vast majority on one side are solicitors and on the other side are union officials. I wouldn't have thought either would serve as an ideal training ground for much of the work necessary in government. (Yes a few solicitors would be handy, but having nearly all of them with that qual lacks a certain diversity, no?)

    I think low pay wouldn't serve as a deterrent to either the uber rich (who don't have to work) or people for whom there is little or no opportunity cost. I can't believe many union officials are getting paid $130k, for instance. But for a big slice of well educated, skilled Australia, it just wouldn't be worth it.

    Which is why you very rarely get anyone in government who understands money matters. Turnbull is one, but there is daylight to the next best on his side; on the other side you have Nick Sherry, whose experience in superannuation is IMHO unparalleled, and Lindsay Tanner.