Pay ruling breaks two-year inaction
Federal politicians, judges and top bureaucrats will receive a 2 per cent pay rise at the end of an Abbott government-era wage freeze next month.
Most of those in line for a pay rise have been on the same money for 2½ years.
From January 1, the base salary of a parliamentary backbencher will be $199,040 a year, while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's will hit $517,504, up from its current level of about $507,000.
The top-paid public servant will be the incoming head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, with a salary of about $603,000.
Mr Parkinson’s total remuneration package, including superannuation and other benefits, will hit $861,700.
The independent Remuneration Tribunal is ending the salary freeze first imposed by then prime minister Tony Abbott in May 2013.
It comes after the Turnbull government increased the maximum pay rise that could be offered to bureaucratic staff, many of whom have been on the same salary since July 2013.
Agencies have begun offering public servants a wage increase of up to 2 per cent a year to break the long-running impasse in pay negotiations.
The tribunal's three-member panel, led by president John Conde, noted that senior government officials “do not expect or require that monetary compensation be set at private sector levels”.
“Rather, in the true sense of the phrase 'public service', office holders serve for the public good. This means that, in setting remuneration, the tribunal has traditionally set rates below those of the private sector,” it said in a statement.
“The tribunal has moderated its assessment because of the latest economic and wages data, projections and trends combined with the downside risks for the Australian economy ...
“The tribunal has also noted the, albeit slowed, upward movement in the various measures of cost of living expenses.”
The salaries of government agency chief have been shooting up since a 2011 review of their responsibilities found they were being dramatically underpaid.
The tribunal has also warned that it is important for parliamentarians’ and senior officials’ pay “is maintained at appropriate levels over the longer term to attract and retain people of the calibre required for these important high-level offices”.
“The tribunal is generally conservative in its approach to annual increases and, in this case, is conscious of the government's continuing policy of wage restraint for the [Australian Public Service] and non-APS government agencies.
“Ideally, the tribunal is concerned to avoid, in the future, any need for significant one-off increases to restore proper relativities and to recognise fully ongoing changes in work requirements.”