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The Forum > Article Comments > Politicians' pay: foxes guarding the hen-house? > Comments

Politicians' pay: foxes guarding the hen-house? : Comments

By Andrew Leigh, published 19/6/2009

Does higher pay buy better politicians?

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Here is an idea which I've previously mentioned here for determining a politicians pay.
The policitians should tender for their job like. This can be implemented by printing on the election ballot-papers, right next to their name, the total amount that they offer to do the job for. Each politician sets their own individual bid. This binding bid is the TOTAL remuneration they receive- it includes their salary, super and any other monetary entitlements. In this way the politicians within an electorate are now competitively bidding against each other. This solution determines a politicianís salary according to a pricing mechanism common to almost all transactions of goods and services in our economy.
It should be pointed that by this system it is possible for politicians to be paid a lot more than currently. This is expected to happen, because if the voters think they're worth it they should be paid more.
Its also possible that some are paid less. However, since their salary has been determined by the market they have no grounds to complain. (Almost everybody else has their wages/salary determined by the job market).
This is the simplest, cheapest and easiest system to implement that provides a mechanism of negotiation between the politicians and the public.
Posted by thinkabit, Friday, 19 June 2009 9:21:11 AM
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I love this bit about the average wage, the vast majority around 76% of working Australian's earn less than the average wage.

So the income our politicans earn puts them in the top 15-20% of income earners. Lets not forget about, the fact that the taxpayer pays for the fuel they put in their taxpayer funded motor vechiles. Plus they can salary package their income, not available to most Australian wage earners.

Why is it that there is a bun fight to get preselection, if life as a politican is so tough? and poorly paid.

Personally I think politicans should be working for free and donating their time to their country.

It would save about 3-4 billion a year.
Posted by JamesH, Friday, 19 June 2009 12:09:16 PM
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Should politicians get more money?

No, they are paid enough.

Pay has got very little to do with getting good quality people. It will be set in accordance to the society's standards and willingess to pay a certain amount.

What happended in 1901 is not relevant; society was much more un equal then.

Out of the numbers that are attracted to politics, there are enough talented people who are prepared to work for a reasonable wage, and have a passion and the intellect to uphold the public interest.

And the CEO of Norway's Oil fund only got $500,000 a year (at least a few years ago), and his company has outperformed many Australian corporations which paid their CEO's ridiculous amounts.
Posted by Chris Lewis, Friday, 19 June 2009 1:00:25 PM
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I'm with you on this JamesH

>>I think politicans should be working for free and donating their time to their country.<<

And forbidden to take donations too, so that they can stay relatively uncorrupted.

Another option might be to give them performance targets.

Even, in the spirit of thinkabit's earlier post, targets that they themselves set, prior to the election.

They can call this their "manifesto" (from the Latin, manifestus adj. obvious, unmistakable) and be paid on the milestones they achieve.

They must also declare those policies that they will oppose - "never ever a GST", for example - and either be disallowed from voting if that bill were ever presented, or even be fired for changing their mind.

Or, as it should actually be termed, "reneging on a commitment made".

Because let's face it, in any other walk of life, accepting money under false pretences - which is what acting against the manifesto laid before those who elected you actually amounts to - is an offence punishable by a jail sentence.

Articles like this appear every so often, and signally fail to address the underlying issue: forget for a moment the amount they are paid, and concentrate on what they are tasked to achieve by those who elect them.
Posted by Pericles, Friday, 19 June 2009 1:38:31 PM
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I don't want people who think that $127 000 isn't alot of money in parliament and please, no more lawyers.
Posted by benk, Friday, 19 June 2009 3:36:06 PM
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What a good article. Finally, some good information on how politicians wages effect performance. I personally always thought the Prime Minister was underpaid.

A political career is a high risk job compared to other professions. An engineer, lawyer, successful business man or doctor can reply on his profession to deliver a steady job with a good income for 30 or 40 years. If you want to give that up and for a political full time career, paying a premium seems like it would be required. And it _is_ a risk for them. Once they are out of their profession for a full electoral term it is unlikely they will be able to return to their old profession.

What that means is a backbenchers pay should be compared to say the top quartile of the professions earn, not the minimum wage. And it has to be substantially higher than that.

As for the idea of putting the salary on the voting form and letting the electorate select the lowest bidder - the idea gives me the willies.
Posted by rstuart, Friday, 19 June 2009 4:10:45 PM
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