A Radical Review of Federal Politicians' Remuneration to make Australia more Equal

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Austerity Budget for Australian Politicians

In the spirit of a fair go for all Australians, we, the undersigned, propose the Parliament of Australia adopts a similar system of remuneration for politicians as in Sweden, where politicians have no official cars or personal drivers, aides, secretaries, or immunity, their offices are modest, average salaries are approximately double an elementary school teacher's, and they routinely travel by public transport. The Swedish Government provides 2-star accommodation for their politicians with communal laundries. They do not use titles such as “Excellency” but use the same patronyms as their constituents, thus encouraging politicians to live in conditions similar to the reality of the people who elect them.

Swedish politicians understand that they are there to be of service to their citizens and citizens in turn understand that they are the ones who pay the politicians and most see no reason to give them a life of luxury. We feel that this relationship has been breached in Australia and thus political trust has been eroded, so it is in a spirit of equality that we put forward this petition.*

We therefore ask the House to investigate the following changes to our present system:

1. Cap the maximum salary for Australian politicians at $132,000, noting that this is almost the median tax-filer’s income of $44,527 x 3**

2. Review the use of publicly funded cars and planes, and politicians to use public transport, bicycles, economy class or private vehicles whenever possible.

3. Abolish the use of private secretaries for the exclusive use of each politician.

4. Undertake an independent examination re the present living arrangements of politicians in Canberra, with a view to the cessation of payment of excessive daily allowances, which are open to rorting, and provision of modest accommodation by Treasury.

5. Limit electorate offices and staff numbers to essential requirements only.

6. Investigate and rein in politician's spending and expenses bills on 'entertainment' costs such as flowers, alcohol, dinner parties, childcare services and laundry, and money to be reclaimed as appropriate.

7. Cease forthwith using archaic titles such as “Honourable”, thus placing politicians on the same level as any other Australian citizen.

It is estimated that if these changes are made, it could encourage more average Australians with grass-roots issues to enter politics, create more empathy between politicians and average Aussies, about 50% of whom exist on $45k p.a. or less, and save the Australian taxpayers in excess of $50 million dollars per annum, which could be used to top-up pensions or New Start allowances to help Aussie battlers, or to fund the RFS etc. instead.

References:

*Claudia Wallin: “Sweden The Untold Story”
** Grattan Institute, quoted by James Fernyhough, Money Editor of The New Daily, June 8, 2018