Greens say politicians get enough peanuts already

I have to agree --JR

GREENS leader Bob Brown has rejected moves to pay MPs more cash, saying increasing their pay packets won't attract better talent to parliament.

Federal MPs are in line for a new year pay rise, with shadow ministers pay at $200K. Even rookie MPs' salaries will jump from $135,000 to nearly $170,000 as part of the biggest changes to parliamentary entitlements for years. The wage rise will deliver a superannuation bonanza, adding thousands of dollars to the retirement incomes of the 226 federal MPs and Senators.

But they also will lose a raft of perks, which can add $60,000 to an MP's salary. The Gold Pass- lifetime travel to retired MPs - is almost certain to be scrapped for future parliamentarians.

Liberal frontbencher Eric Abetz said there was truth to the old saying "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys", but Mr Brown gave that line a twist. "There is an old saying that if you pay them peanuts you get monkeys, but if you give more peanuts you sometimes get gorillas," he told reporters in Canberra.

Senator Brown says politicians already earn well above the average national wage. "We are very well paid," he said. "We have to be very careful about assuming that it is only money that will get you good politicians."

Liberal MP Don Randall also believed it was time to look at the issue. "The Prime Minister should get more pay," he said.

But some of his colleagues were reluctant to comment. Malcolm Turnbull, believed to be the richest MP in parliament, said it was a matter for independent review. And Opposition frontbench colleague Scott Morrison gave the same one-sentence reply to repeated questions on the issue. "It's a matter for the independent tribunal," he said three times.

Labor backbencher Amanda Rishworth was equally wary of talking about the controversial issue. "I'm quite happy with my lot in life," she said.

But Independent senator Nick Xenophon believes it was his staff who deserved a pay rise. "They are working around the clock and what they're getting paid is completely unfair," he said. "If anyone gets a pay rise first it should be the staff."

Well-placed sources said travel was likely to be tightened for current politicians - a plan that has already triggered a backlash.

The Government, which has since April been sitting on a secret report outlining the changes, is determined to clean up the $340 million entitlements system following a series of critical reports. Perks that have been abused, including the $35,000 electorate allowance and the $18,500 "overseas study" entitlement, will be "cashed out" with the higher salary.

A backbencher salary will rise to $170,000-$180,000, while shadow ministers will get a more generous increase. It will also flow through to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who earns about $350,000 a year, and Cabinet ministers, who earn about $230,000.


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