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Do federal MPs need a pay rise?

MINIMUM wage earners welcomed a 3.4% pay rise in June, increasing their weekly earnings by $19.40 to $589.30.

However, any celebrations will be cut short by news our federal politicians could have their pay packets almost doubled.

The independent Federal Remuneration Tribunal is undertaking a comprehensive review of politicians' pay that could result in a 79% pay rise for Member for Dawson George Christensen and Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore (both left).

The tribunal is expected to recommend backbench MPs trade their generous allowances to have their salaries boosted from $140,000 to $250,000 a year, however, its initial report will not be released until late this year.

Mr Christensen and Ms Livermore weren't cracking the champagne yesterday, preferring to stay out of discussions about the possible pay rise.

"Weekend reports about a possible pay rise for politicians were the first I have heard about such a thing and any details are probably just speculation," Mr Christensen said.

"Remuneration for federal members is set by an independent body and I have always argued that politicians should not have the right to vote themselves a pay rise. I argued the same case when I was (a councillor) on the Mackay Regional Council.

"There is now an independent umpire and no politicians have a say on the matter."

The salary rises will come at the expense of MPs' allowances.

Mr Christensen said he used his current entitlements to fund a second office in Townsville and regular charter flights around his electorate, which was more than 10,000 sq km.

In January, Ms Livermore was reported as being one of 65 federal MPs forced to repay $100,000 in wrongful family travel claims. She reportedly made 10 repayments totalling $3642.

News of a possible pay rise has received mixed reactions from politicians across the country.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said the matter was best dealt with by the independent tribunal as politicians should not have any power over the decision.

"I didn't get into politics for the money and don't know too many people who did," he told ABC TV.

"Whatever the decision is I'll abide by it."

However, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said the "very clever, but rather cowardly transfer" of all power for pay rises to the tribunal of three men should never have taken place.

"It always should be our responsibility, we should be able to debate pay rises, the merits of them, they're merited at times, they're not at other times," Senator Brown said.

"Rather than saying we'll simply duckshove this to a committee of three while we push for a massive increase in income without any change in workload."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's pay could be boosted from $366,366 to $650,000 a year under any new system, while Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's pay could rise from $260,000 to almost $480,000.

Topics:  federal government pay rise politicians


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