Napkin-back Numbers – Politician pay rises

This is a subject that is often raised, but never really followed through upon. There’s typically a lot of noise as everyone bellows their outrage, but eventually after a couple weeks, people shrug with the resignation of “Politicians gonna politician”.

Politician pay rises. They come somewhat frequently, are seldom refused, and seem to not hinge upon any kind of merit or Key Performance Indicator. Just this past month, politicians in Australia snuck a very quiet pay rise to themselves.

This post is not the question whether they are deserving of pay rises. That’s the kind of bickering that happens every single time something like this happens. Every time, nothing occurs. The electorate has (and I cannot remember which politician said it) a memory of roughly two weeks. After this time, the public find something else to be outraged at.

The pay rise in this instance pushes MP pay above AU$200,000.

Let’s just unpack that a little bit.

Anyone who is paid $200,000 a year will earn (according to an old HR method I know), $7667.73 before tax. That person would, in Australia, pay around $2600 in tax, leaving a nett pay of around $5000.

So far, so humdrum, right? These people would pay more in tax a fortnight that many people earn outright for that same fortnight. Then consider the fairly generous perks that politicians also receive, and suddenly that sweet, sweet $5000 per fortnight looks all the more saccharine.

Then there are the extra benefits that more senior politicians enjoy, but are seldom declared, such as having meals and drinks offered for conferences they attend, or the access to cars to help them with their commute. Eventually you see a recipe in where those who can most afford to pay for things don’t actually need to – while the person who earns the same per fortnight that these people pay in tax, is left to cover their food, bills, commuting expenses and the like.

And that’s before you consider how much someone can put into tax deductions if they had a lazy $5000 to cover themselves for a fortnight.

To end, I don’t mean to say that people do or do not deserve the wages they are paid. Rather, look at how much that are paid per fortnight and compare it with your own. Remember that many of their expenses are covered even without delving into their $5000 per fortnight. Think of how you could provide for your family and children.

Then wonder why we aren’t up in arms about being trapped in a caste system.