Secretaries’ pay boost takes Parkinson above $900k

By David Donaldson

Friday June 7, 2019

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Australia’s top federal public servants will enjoy a 2% pay increase on July 1.

This will take the pay packet of the nation’s highest-paid bureaucrat, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Martin Parkinson, up to about $914,000.

Treasury Secretary Phil Gaetjens is not far behind, on around $892,000, according to the Remuneration Tribunal’s 2019 determination released on Thursday.

Behind that, on up to $865,000, are the bosses of several departments: Defence, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Health, Home Affairs, Human Services, Industry Innovation and Science, and Social Services.

Then there are those on up to $776,000: Agriculture, Attorney-General’s, Communications, Education, Environment and Energy, Infrastructure Regional Development and Cities, Jobs and Small Business, and Veterans’ Affairs.

The chair of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority also gets paid well, rising to around $887,000 this year.

The annual salary of Australian Public Service Commissioner Peter Woolcott and Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin will both be on about $720,000.

The 2% rise is in line with that of recent years, though in 2014 and 2015 there was no increase.

It’s also broadly in line with the rest of the economy, with slow wage growth gradually picking up. The Australian Bureau of Statistics seasonally adjusted March 2019 wage price index rose 2.4% for both public and private sectors, an improvement on the year before. The Consumer Price Index rose 1.3% through the year to March 2019, and a few days ago the Fair Work Commission announced an increase of 3% for those on the minimum wage.

The government’s current workplace bargaining policy allows agencies to offer rank and file public servants increases averaging up to 2% per annum, with costs to be met from within existing budgets.

The Remuneration Tribunal said its main aim “is to provide competitive and equitable remuneration that is appropriate to the responsibilities and experience required of the roles, and that is sufficient to attract and retain people of calibre.”

And perhaps the prospect of jumping into business is slightly less lucrative than previously. The tribunal pointed to greater scrutiny of private sector executive pay by shareholders in recent years — though there are also the non-financial benefits of “working in roles that are at the leading edge of delivering policy outcomes and services on a range of matters that directly benefit the public.”

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