Queensland’s politicians have been handed massive pay increases, with some hikes totalling more than the average Australian’s salary.
Premier Campbell Newman’s annual salary will rise by $67,525, or 21.67 per cent, to $379,160.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk will pocket an extra $79,464, or 34.4 per cent, to take home $310,066.
While the hikes were decided by an independent tribunal, both leaders are under extreme pressure from unions to reject the “obscene” rises.
Ms Palaszczuk wants the premier to overturn the decision with laws, but wouldn’t commit to knocking back her extra cash if he didn’t act.
Mr Newman declined to forfeit his raise to help pay down the state’s spiralling debt and argued it wouldn’t make a dent.
He also dodged questions over whether MPs deserved more pay.
“Whatever they say, it will still be something that many people won’t be happy with,” he told Fairfax Radio.
“Politicians shouldn’t be setting their own pay and they’re not now and that’s the most important thing.”
Mr Newman set up the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal in July last year.
He was forced to back away from a 42 per cent wage increase for MPs which had been approved by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney while the premier holidayed in Vietnam.
The tribunal set a base wage for MPs in October, but on Thursday released its new formula for calculating the salaries of office holders.
Tribunal chair, Professor Tim Brailsford, says Mr Newman’s total salary and additional benefit is less than the average remuneration of some non-profit chief executives and lower than 14 directors-general of government departments.
Prof Brailsford said that in the last 10 years, the position of the premier had experienced the second lowest increase in total salary in comparison across the state.
He rejected a number of submissions for senior office holders to be on par with directors-general, arguing politicians shouldn’t enter the fray for money.
“We have a strong view that there is a strong societal role associated with being an MP,” he said.
“If we benchmarked to private sector entities, as we all know, that is a comparison which would result in a salary which would be quite obscene.”
Public service union Together questioned the independence of the tribunal.
“This is an obscene pay increase delivered by a hand-picked tribunal, from legislation written by the premier,” secretary Alex Scott said.
The Queensland Council of Unions said the government was hypocritical, after fighting minor wage increases for public servants.
“Ordinary families struggle to deal with increasing power and water bills,” he said.
The pay rises will be back paid from July 2013.