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I believe that the key question of equity should also be addressed. This place must seek to establish equitable practices, both here and within the community. There are many inequities within our community and, indeed, some within the Assembly. The Greens believe that it is imperative that we seek to address those inequities. While this motion will not have a dramatic effect on members’ salaries, it will show that MLAs are working towards creating a fairer system for all.
Finally, one member has put to us that refusing a Remuneration Tribunal determination should be a matter of choice. While we can see the logic in that argument, we believe that this Assembly is all too happy to pass motions and legislation that affect the choices other people have. I therefore believe that we can pass a motion that affects our choices too. At a time when community groups such as women's refuges, youth groups and employment groups are losing their funding or having their funding reduced, we believe that it is appropriate that this Assembly support the motion.
MR MOORE (10.43): Mr Speaker, this is not the first time we have seen this style of political grandstanding on remuneration. Dennis Stevenson used the same sorts of arguments. If I remember correctly, he went on to do a further political grandstand and said that he would not actually take the extra money that was provided. That was modified a little, and he said that he would take it but he would use it only for doing his job as an MLA. We often wondered, I must say, just exactly where and what his job was. Nevertheless, he was an elected member and entitled to do that. Of course, the rest of us do exactly the same thing. We use a substantial part of our income to do our job and, as you look at your tax return around this time of year and realise just how much money you spend on doing this job, you realise that that was just a bit more political grandstanding.
One of the things we could have done in this Assembly, because we have the power in the self-government Act to do it, is what almost every other parliament in Australia has done: Forget about the Remuneration Tribunal and tie ourselves to the Federal Government, in the same way that the Brisbane City Council has, for example. In that way, we could all substantially increase our salaries. It does not matter what we do; the community are going to say that we get paid too much, because they always think politicians get paid too much. Instead of doing that, we accepted a very fair and equitable system - an independent group to have a look at our salaries and determine what the salary should be for the job.
There is another arm to that: We have the right to write to the Remuneration Tribunal and say to them that the way we are paid is not appropriate, and on two occasions I have done that. Some members will remember that when we first started in this house the remuneration was $40,000. I was one of the people who felt that that was inadequate, particularly because I knew that I was spending substantial sums of money on the job. Every time we do that, it means that it is less money we have to spend on our families. Everybody is presented with those sorts of problems. That is why it is that we get the Remuneration Tribunal to make these decisions for us at arm’s length. Because it is a determination, we also have the power, and Ms Tucker is testing that, to say no, we are not going to take it.