This is what our Australian and state politicians earn each year

Australia’s politicians are some of the highest paid in the world, and Victoria’s political leaders have just been handed another pay rise by an independent tribunal.

Premier Daniel Andrews, already the country’s best-remunerated state leader, will now take home around $481,190 per year, including personal allowances, after a decision on Tuesday by the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal to give state MPs a 3.5 per cent pay rise from July 1.

An MP in Spring Street with no ministries will receive a pay rise of around $6720, with their annual salary increasing from $192,115 to $198,839, making them the highest-paid state politicians in the country.

A comparison

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese naturally brings in the biggest pay packet in Australian politics, earning $564,356 since rising to the top job at last year’s federal election. His deputy Richard Marles rakes in just over $433,000 and senior government cabinet members can expect around $370,000.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s $401,000 in earnings is far above the $217,000 salary of a regular member of  federal parliament.

(Scroll to the bottom of this story to see a full list of Australian parliamentarian pay across federal and state politics)

However, no leader in Australia comes close to the earnings of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who brings in an eye-watering salary of over A$2.4 million a year, making him the highest-earning democratically elected government leader in the world.

The US President Joe Biden receives $588,750, only slightly more than Mr Albanese, while Mr Andrews out-earns Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s $422,585 in remuneration.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom brings home a comparatively lowly $309,000 – if, that is, they can achieve the increasingly rare feat of being in the job for more than a year.

The British PM’s salary is supplemented by perks like access to 10 Downing Street, chauffeured transport and a country house, and the above figures don’t take into account the complete number of vast allowances for travel, accommodation and other services available to government officials throughout Australia and the world.

A built-in advantage

Bill Browne, Director of the Democracy and Accountability Program at the Australia Institute, said a recent report released by the institute found that over a three-year election cycle, a federal MP gets a minimum $2.9 million worth of entitlements and pay.

“These are really substantial benefits paid for with public money. We do want our parliamentarians to be well resourced, they need to be able to travel to and from their electorates and for those in big regional electorates, they need to be able to travel the length and breadth of their electorates as well,” he said.

“One thing we observe in our report is that these entitlements set up parliamentarians for success at the next election, and that’s probably one reason why we see about 90 per cent of incumbents winning re-election.”

The Advantages of Incumbency Report, by Mr Browne and Elizabeth Morison, found that current members of Parliament in Australia have significant financial advantages due to their offices, printing, travel allowances and staff.

This resulted in only 40 of the 398 incumbents who re-contested their seats in the past three federal elections losing their seats, with 11 losing to challengers from independent or minor parties.

Are politicians paid fairly?

Mr Browne said while it seems obvious to us now that politicians should receive salaries for the work they do, there were times in the United Kingdom parliamentary system when this wasn’t the case.

“The consequence of that was that people were excluded from participation in political life, so I don’t think anyone begrudges parliamentarians for earning a salary these days,” he said.

“There’s certainly a debate to be had on the level of remuneration, but it is worth recognising the purpose that remuneration has.”

Joe Biden and Anthony Albanese earn similar amounts. Photo: AAP

The 3.5 per cent pay rise for Victorian politicians comes during a time when real wages are failing to keep pace with inflation. Mr Browne said there is an argument for ensuring wage increases go to the worst off.

“With parliamentarians as well paid as they are, that would be most of the country. I think that argument applies to public servants too,” he said.

“We want those benefits to be well distributed across the economy, not limited to a few.”

Around Australia

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, Premier Chris Minns takes home $416,440 while his deputy earns $350,329 and senior ministers $333,072.

The Leader of the Opposition earns more than $65,000 less than his Victorian counterpart, bringing home $315,814 compared to $383,760, and a member of the NSW Legislative Council Assembly earns $172,576.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk received a pay rise of more than $25,000 in 2021 despite previously calling for no increase in wages for state MPs until 2023, thanks to a decision by the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal that increased her salary to more than $427,000.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles brings home $376,070 a year, while senior ministers and the Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli earn $350,324.

Newly-minted Western Australia Premier Roger Cook received a pay rise of over $80,000 when he ascended to the top job following Mark McGowan’s retirement from politics earlier this month, earning $366,490 compared to $285,881 while a senior minister.

The Nationals Party leader Shane Love earns $247,128 as Opposition Leader, thanks to the WA Liberal Party being comprehensively routed at the 2021 state election.

In Australia’s smallest state, and the only Liberal government left in the country, Tasmania’s Premier Jeremy Rockliff earns $301,397. It is the lowest of all premiers and chief ministers, and a Tasmanian MP can expect to earn just over $140,000 while serving in Parliament.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr earns more than $370,000 after his most recent pay rise, according to The Canberra Times; South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas clears over $415,000 and Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles receives roughly $325,000 after last year blocking a wage increase for NT politicians.

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