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The Forum > Article Comments > Salaries for politicians? Time for a radical rethink > Comments

Salaries for politicians? Time for a radical rethink : Comments

By Vern Hughes, published 6/3/2009

'Service to community' is a platitude politicians will serve up when asked about their motivation. But itís just a job. A career like any other.

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What I wish is that the mechanism of deciding a politicians salary package be brought into line with something similar with what the rest of society has.
Politicians are offering to supply a service and we the public accept or reject to offer at election time. In this respect it is a standard contract. However main difference between a poliction's employment contract are what we the rest of society have is that the amount paid for the service (the contract's consideration) is completely determined by the politicians whereas for us it is negotiated between the parties involved. Politicians are some of the only workers that can set their own terms and conditions of employment at will without having to bargain with us voters- their employers.
A step in the right direction to fix with is that on the ballot-paper at election time, right next to their name, is the salary figure that they will accept do the job. Each politician sets their own bid. This bid figure is the ONLY pay they receive- no other entitlements, no superannuation. In this way the politicians are now bidding against each other applicant for the job-- just like it is for the rest of us!
Posted by thinkabit, Friday, 6 March 2009 10:11:20 AM
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Thinkabit, but not a lot. What an incredibly insane suggestion. We can vote for the cheapest canditate! Thinkabit more and remember "pay peanut's, get monkey's".
Posted by hedgehog, Friday, 6 March 2009 10:24:45 AM
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hedgehog,
You don't have to vote for the cheapest tendered bid.
This system now makes it the same as for any other service or good that you buy. For example, if you wish to build a house, you do your homework and make general social enquiries about builders in your area and their reputations. You then get quotes from the various builders that you feel are suitable and decide which should be awarded the job. You don't have to use the cheapest, no-one forces you to do that- you make a decision based on quality and cost.
What you don't do is decide on a builder and then give them blank cheque and tell them to build your house. Effectively we give politicians a blank cheque, they can (and do) give themselves payrises, entitilements, etc. at anytime without ever having to negotiate with us -the voters/their employers- for them.
Posted by thinkabit, Friday, 6 March 2009 10:46:36 AM
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Pay is not the issue. The key missing ingredient is accountability.

We need to find a way to hold politicians, and the party they stand for, accountable for the promises they make at election time.

The means to enforce this already exists in the form of "recall elections",

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recall_election

...where the public has access to a process that can fire a non-performer.

Even Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians ensured that once every thirtyfive days, at a full Assembly, the people were required to ratify the continuance of the elected officers. Twice a year, they were allowed to voice their complaints about "an individual [who] has made some promise to the people and has not performed it." This was a serious charge, and those found guilty of this charge were severely punished.

http://www.constitution.org/ari/athen_06.htm (see: part 43)

Regrettably, we have over the years - mostly during the twentieth century - handed the keys of the asylum to the inmates, and they aren't about to change anything.

Would you volunteer to give up a gravy train, where you set your own salary, take overseas trips on taxpayers' money, and award yourself an obscene pension?

Sadly, principled politicians are like hens' teeth. Ted Mack was the last of them, retiring just before those obscene entitlements kicked in.

His replacement? Joe Hockey.

Bad bargain.
Posted by Pericles, Friday, 6 March 2009 2:19:28 PM
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Pay is not the issue. The key missing ingredient is accountability.

it's called voting.
Posted by Kenny, Friday, 6 March 2009 10:33:18 PM
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I can't be sure, Kenny, but I fear you may have missed my point.

>>Pay is not the issue. The key missing ingredient is accountability. it's called voting<<

When we plebs go to vote, it is in response to the proposals of each candidate, concerning their intentions, once elected.

We have at that point exhausted our opportunities to influence the course of lawmaking and governance.

We are allowed no recourse when a "Never, ever GST" commitment made before an election becomes a fully implemented GST after it.

What those elected proceed to do with our "mandate" is beyond our control.

I am suggesting that it shouldn't be.

Where a candidate subsequently votes against a measure that had been a component of a platform put to the electorate, that should be a criminal offence, since it is a form of theft. Putting a few wayward pollies behind bars for a few years without soap for the showers should quickly bring the rest into line.

Similarly, if they vote for a measure that they had previously condemned in their manifesto, they should be automatically jailed for contempt of the citizenry, a new offence similar to contempt of court. Where a jail sentence for court contempt can only be lifted by a judge, a politician incarcerated for citizenry contempt would only be freed by popular vote.

It is of course quite possible that our prisons would presently be inadequate for the task.

To round it off, where a proposal before parliament was not part of their platform, the politician should be required to abstain from voting, on the grounds that their electorate has not been permitted a voice on the topic.

Unfortunately, the parliamentary response to this would, no doubt, be to give MPs a secret ballot, so that we are unable to discover how our member placed their vote.

The only possible means to change this situation is for the general populace to chain itself to the nearest parliamentary railings, with the slogan "no mandate without accountability", or the more demotic "take some responsibility, you lazy bunch of money-grubbing leeches".

Democracy, anyone?
Posted by Pericles, Sunday, 8 March 2009 2:31:23 PM
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