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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Page: 3160


Mr WINDSOR (11:13 AM) —I am pleased to speak to this bill today. The discussion that we have heard from both the minister and the shadow minister indicates that there has been a fairly long-lasting problem in relation t the determination of salaries and other aspects of political life. Independents, historically, have argued for greater transparency in terms of the way remuneration and other entitlements are granted to parliamentary office holders and others that come under the auspices of the Remuneration Tribunal. This bill is an important step forward in terms of creating that transparency and independence in terms of the way salaries and other entitlements are dealt with into the future.

I am pleased that the Belcher report will be available for members and the general public to look at, because there are a number of issues that have been outstanding for many years that both parliamentarians and the public have views on. We will have the debate that we have probably needed to have for many years as to the value of office holders, the work that they do in the community and in the parliament, and how that should be properly assessed and the value placed on it. So I support the general thrust of today’s bill that the Remuneration Tribunal be, in a sense, independent of the parliament in its capacity to determine base parliamentary salaries.

I also support the need for a wider discussion to take place, and I hope a number of these things are in the Belcher report—and I am fairly certain they will be—as to the benefits that parliamentarians receive when they leave the parliament. We need a wider ranging debate on such things as the Gold Card, which consumes an enormous amount of money for parliamentarians who do not serve the community any more, who have left the building. And if we are having a serious look at the value of parliamentarians in terms of their salaries and entitlements, we do need to have a serious look at the value and entitlements that others receive after they leave the parliament.

I would encourage all members of parliament, and the general public and the press, to have a close look at what is being suggested in the Belcher review. I have been looking forward to having a very close look at it myself. I do hope that there is a wider ranging debate than the one that has been put forward today. But I do support the general concept, and have for many years, that the determination of the worth of parliamentarians—their base salaries and the salaries of the various officers of the shadow ministers, ministers et cetera—should be independent, totally, of the capacity of the parliament to have any influence. So the reference to the tribunal to have that determination take place independently and transparently to the parliament is a good step forward and I would hope that the community would see it in that light as well.