Speaker Sue Hickey says her $190,000 salary isn’t enough, calls for pay rise

Sue Hickey says Tasmanian speakers are the worst paid in the country.

Sue Hickey says Tasmanian speakers are the worst paid in the country. Photo: Ellen Coulter, ABC News

Sue Hickey believes Tasmanian parliamentary speakers — like herself — deserve to earn more than their $190,000 annual salary.

The Clark MP, who has made headlines speaking out on social issues including homelessness, has made a submission to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission to argue her case.

Ms Hickey said Tasmania’s Speaker and Legislative Council President were the worst paid presiding officers in the country, and argued the salary should be boosted to ensure the best talent was attracted to the role.

She acknowledged it was not a popular position.

“I recognise that most of our public servants believe they’re underpaid and a lot of people would like to see Newstart increased, and we do look like we’ve got significantly larger salaries,” she said.

But I can tell you we’re working very, very long hours, seven days a week, and sometimes putting ourselves at great risk.

“I would just like to see it commensurate with our peers on the mainland.”

Legislative Council President and Labor MP Craig Farrell also earns $190,000 a year, but he said he was comfortable with his pay.

“I think after listening to some of the stories I’ve listened to this weekend [at the Labor conference] about public servants battling, people having to take two jobs, I don’t think I’ll be standing up saying, ‘please give me more money’,” Mr Farrell said.

In the ACT, which has a smaller population than Tasmania, Speaker Joy Burch earns more than $260,000 a year.

Northern Territory Speaker Kezia Purick earns almost $270,000 to preside over a 25-member Legislative Assembly.

Arguing for a pay rise ‘impossible’: O’Connor

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor pointed out that Tasmanian politicians received a two per cent pay rise every year.

Members of Parliament get paid very well and we have the honour and responsibility of representing our constituents,” Ms O’Connor said.

“Arguing for a pay rise for Members of Parliament I think is impossible.”

Cassy O'Connor

Cassy O’Connor says parliamentarians are paid “very well”. Photo: Emma Lancaster

A State Government spokeswoman said: “All parliamentarian salaries and allowances, including that of the speaker, are set under the Parliament Salaries Act with annual increments determined by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission (TIC).

“While the TIC is conducting a detailed review of 2019-20 parliamentarian salaries, the government expects any pay increase to be consistent with the public sector and broader community.”

A year-long and bitter dispute between the Government and public sector workers saw the latter group offered a wage increase worth about 2.35 per cent.

All members of Tasmanian Parliament earn a base salary of $140,185 as well as an electoral allowance and extra loading for different roles.

Premier Will Hodgman takes home about $300,000 a year, Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff about $255,000, while ministers and Opposition leader Rebecca White almost $240,000.

Tasmanian politicians earn less than counterparts

Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean and McIntyre independent MLC Tania Rattray also told the TIC that politicians deserve extra money.

Ms Rattray argued Upper House members should be entitled to committee sitting fees, and she requested extra funds to visit the Bass Strait islands within her electorate.

She also claimed politicians who lost their seat should earn a “resettlement allowance” because it could be difficult for them to find another job quickly.

Meanwhile, Mr Dean said he should receive a greater electoral allowance because the Windermere boundaries had expanded.

The TIC released an issues paper on MPs’ pay in March, showing Tasmanian politicians earn less than those in all other states and territories.

But the paper also showed Tasmania had fewer people per member of parliament than other jurisdictions, barring the Northern Territory, and that Tasmania’s general population also earned less than the national average.

A final report into politicians’ pay was due to be tabled in June but has not yet been released.


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