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Hodgman Weak on MPs Pay Increase

7 April 2016

Thursday 7 April 2016

PARLIAMENTARY SALARIES

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.10 a.m.]

Why did you send the issue of MPs' pay to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, knowing it would result in a pay rise, a mess you are now trying to get out of?  Why don't you believe MPs' pays should be tied to public servants' pay?  Don't you see yourself as a public servant?

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I want the House to be aware that the question is technically out of order because it is a topic for debate later today.  The Premier can answer it in broad terms but I am not happy about allowing the question.  I will observe that it is technically out of order.

Ms O'CONNOR - On your ruling, Madam Speaker, I was aware this was a possibility, so I wrote it in such a way that it did not refer to the business coming before the House today.

Madam SPEAKER - That is why I will allow the Premier to answer it in broad terms.

 

ANSWER

Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I welcome the opportunity to make a contribution on this subject, clearly one of great importance to members opposite.  The Labor-Greens coalition is demonstrating once again what their priorities are.  The energy crisis, as you so often call it, the circumstances in our health system or our education system, fall well behind the issue of parliamentarians' pay.  They are very excited about having this debate.  I want to find a way to stop spending time in this place discussing how much we get paid and spend more time debating things Tasmanians care about, like our health system, education system and budget. 

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  Members will have an opportunity to debate this topic later, so cease the interjections.

Mr HODGMAN - It is a demonstration of the contrast in priorities.  They want to debate parliamentarians' pay; we want to debate our plan for dealing with difficult circumstances and getting on with things Tasmanians are concerned about.  I want to propose a way forward so we can do that - spend more time on what Tasmanians are concerned about and less time in this place debating MPs' pay, like you want.  You are more worried about political play time.

I will make some very clear points.  This is an issue we can resolve and what we have proposed a sensible way forward.  It is important we spend more time dealing with those issues which the people who elected us to this place want us to be spending time on.  That is why I propose this way forward.

We, on this side of the House, a majority Liberal government, place a very high priority on good budget management.  It is not something members opposite can make any claim to.  We believe it is critical for a government to do this so we can invest more in those things Tasmanians are concerned about - schools and hospital and roads, for example.

In two years Tasmanians can see a very different approach to management under a majority Liberal government from what we were left with under a Labor-Greens minority government.  You can make no claim to caring less about budget management when you left us with $1 billion in accumulative deficits, with net debt, with a state economy in recession. 

I note the pattern continues because I heard yesterday that the member for Lyons, Ms White, who I agree does tend to demonstrate inexperience, was suggesting that the Government's intention to enforce a 2 per cent public sector wage policy was concerning - suggesting, presumably, that it should be increased.  What is concerning is the Labor-Greens position that you can spend, spend, spend without any thought as to how it can be paid for.  We are serious about getting our budget back under control.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mr HODGMAN - With respect to the proposal we put forward to disallow the determination of the Industrial Commission -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  If I have just called order or made a ruling or issued a warning, I do not expect to be ignored within two seconds.  It is just as well we have a two-week break so that members can reread the Standing Orders, or read them if they have not already read them.

Mr HODGMAN - While some members opposite might suggest that we accept a 10.5 per cent increase from the Tasmanian Industrial Commission's determination we do not believe a 10.5 per cent increase is appropriate.  It is out of line with community expectations and would have a significant impact on our budget, and also on public sector wage policy.  The wage price index, which we have proposed, is a suitable mechanism and indeed recommended by the TIC, would provide at arm's length an opportunity for this Parliament to allow that index to be the threshold for setting parliamentarians pay, not us.

We are all public servants, but current government members and former government members are responsible for setting government wages policy.  How can we be at arm's length from setting MPs pay if you want to attach it to government policy, which the government of the day sets.  It is clearly and utterly inconsistent and does not provide any independent mechanism, nor one that would sit with community expectations.