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Live. clear Hello and welcome to Capital Hill. I'm Lyndal

Curtis. Probably no-one would

as a bloke from the see the embodiment of Christmas

remuneration tribunal coming down the chimney and leaving a

sack of money. But for Federal politicians they've been given a early Christmas present

until the New Year. A $40,000 although

pay rise for backbenchers and

much more forefront bench are

on both sides. Joining me to discuss the day are Ken Wyatt

and Labor MP Nick Champion. Welcome to you both. Good afternoon. remuneration tribunal has taken afternoon. Hello Lyndal. The

a close look at exactly what

politicians do and decided

they're worth more money,

although they have to give up a few allowances now and when

they retire to get it. For parliamentarians, on the basis of a careful and thorough assessment of the work of parliamentarians, the tribunal

considers that parliamentary

based salary should be set at

$185,000 per annum. We want - we are recommending the introduction of additional

salaries foreshadow ministers, the

Pass scheme, termination of the present overseas study travel

entitlement, a greatly limited severance travel entitlement. It is never appropriate time for entitlement. It is never an

politicians to be contemplating a pay rise. The importance of

this process is it is taken out

of hands of politicians, both

the pay level and the timing.

It has provided the Tribunal

with the capacity with the capacity to independently determine those independently determine

matters and that's the world in

which we live. Look, I think if we're honest about are a lot of people out if we're honest about t there

across Australia would prefer are a lot of people out there

politicians not to be paid at

all. That's why we're leaving it to independent commission to it to independent commission to

set those salaries and I set those salaries and I think

that is right thing to

been do. Nick, this pay rise has

been given, as I said at the outset, with a trade the overseas study allowance,

the Gold Pass will go, some severance entitlements will go

as well. Do you think that

will be an easy sell to the

public? I don't think there is

these are ever easy matters in

the public eye. I think public always takes a somewhat the public eye. I think the

jaundiced view of these things

experience with people is they and they tend to - my

tend to, you know, think all

politicians are all nefarious

other than the one they know,

the politician they know works

very hard and does a good job.

It depends on largely on people's interactions with

know, generally speaking, politicians and I guess, you

there's no good time for these things. The important thing it

is done about by an independent tribunal

patiently so people can make up

their own minds. Ken, you're

relatively knew to the world of

politics. How have you found life as a backbencher? Is it relentless, is it a 24-7 52

weeks of the year job? It is. There's never any time where we're not considering the that we do, we're not engaged

with people. It has been an

interesting 14 months, because

it is 24-7, it is long and ard

arduous hours. My day each beginning starts at just 4.30 because it is the only beginning starts at just after

time I really get to do reading

and I know many colleagues do

that. From 7 o'clock onwards

you're into it. Often you done

finish until 10 at night. But

you do have a couple of periods where it quite tense and allows

you the opportunity to get out

and really work with people, but look, I agree with the

comments that Nick has made, it is, I suppose, a decision of an

independent body so in that sense it removes the decision

making and the increase - takes it out of the hands of politicians. Nick, part of the decision was to remove things like the lengthy like the lengthy severance

benefits that politicians got,

particularly the Gold Pass.

Have those - have the things

which have been called and perks been a which have been called lurks

the good reputation of and perks been a hindrance to

politicians in the past? Well Lyndal, I think one of the problems with the discussions

of these matters is that - like

your promo - they tend to lead

with the pay rise and not talk about some of the other

restructuring that's going on.

In my experience, people don't tend to begrudge tend to begrudge paying

politicians for the job they

while they're doing t but they politicians for the job they do

do lifetime of, you know, benefits

is not appropriate. That's

slowly been restructured.

We've removed the old parliamentary super scheme and now things like the Gold Pass

are going to be given the chop as well. I think it

sense to pay politicians as you sense to pay politicians as

pay anybody, you know, for the

job they do at the time they do it, and to restrict those

benefits that go on into retirement. Ken, many politicians would say politicians would say they

don't go into this job for the

money, but do you think a

higher salary, particularly higher salaries for opposition

front benchers and for the Government front bench and the

people, more Prime Minister may attract more

people, more people who people, more people who may

want to move from the world of want to move from the world

business into politics, but business into politics, but had

been stopped by the relatively

low salaries to what they low salaries to what they could get in the private sector? I come are a lot of people who have think it is

come into Parliament that have

taken substantial salary drops from the

from the jobs and roles they had previously. I honestly believe and certainly in my

short time in short time in Parliament, politicians on all sides of the house, what I've seen with them

is a commitment to public life.

Their genuine desire to achieve

better outcomes for the people

of the electorates in which they live, but also their

contribution to well informed

another factor that often debate. I think there is

drives this into it. Din go

into it for the money, nor what

would have been considered as

the trimmings of office. the trimmings of office. I went into it because I really

want to have a role in

establishing a direction and in some key areas for one of the political problems

for your side of politics is

that this salary rise comes not

many weeks after the Government

took a decision to impose an

extra restraint on the public

service that might see jobs go.

On one hand you're cutting the

public service, on the other hand, you have a pay hand, you have a pay rise? I don't think it's connected to

other issues. The this was

the decision of an independent

tribunal made transparently.

People can see what's going to

happen and the public will

discuss T I don't necessarily

think you can make any

correlations to other issues. I don't think it is sensible to do that. You know, look, there's never really a good

time for these things. People

always look at it, I think,

with a cynical eye, but I think most people understand most people understand that,

you know, you have to have national leaders and you have to pay them

appropriately. We'll move on now. In Griffith angry farmers weren't

worried about their pay but their livelihoods in discussing

the new plan for the

Murray-Darling Basin. No consultation, very poor plan.

It hasn't come up with how

they're going to use the We're expected each year to become more with our water. We put hundreds of thousands of

dollars into becoming

efficient. MR the irrigation

business is becoming more and

more efficient but the environment can waste

water. Nick, you live in

Adelaide at the end of

Murray-Darling Basin system.

What hopes do you see that the reforms, that the idea reforms, that the idea proposed

in the latest plan for in the latest plan for the basis, draft basis, draft plan, will be

implemented? I think the implemented? I think the key point here is if there's no

reform, there will be no river

ultimately. It will turn into, you know, an environmentally

degraded national asset. many people I understand irrigation communities are

concerned by it, and I spent my

youth working in the Riverland and picking fruit so I

understand its economic importance up and down the

river, but the real point river, but the real point here

is if there's no reform, there

will be no long-term will be no long-term economic future and no long-term environmental future for environmental future for the

river and so it is incumbent on governments now and it governments now and it is incumbent on both sides of politics to understand that

we've got to undertake reform.

That necessarily means that there will

there will be less water there will be less water used

and what water is used will be

more efficiently used. It

seems to me that the

is attempting to go through a

process that's fair, that listens to communities, that

factors in their socio-economic factors, but also delivers reform in the long run and

tragically I think we've seen Tony Abbott move away from John Howard's commitment to Howard's commitment to water reform to just saying no reform to just saying no again, like he does for everything

else. Ken, the state of WA is not really involved in not really involved in this

debate at all. The Murray-Darling Basin doesn't

have any direct impact on it. What do you think of that involves so many competing interests, not only the economy versus the environment, but also the Federal Government having to negotiate with States

over it? I think there is a

couple of things in this. One

is certainly food security when

you consider that 40% of the

resources developed in that

area is absolutely critical to our food source. The other is

the tension between the

environmental elements.

Murray-Darling Basin water Murray-Darling Basin water for

irrigation and certainly food production, but certainly water

further down the river that

supplies drinking water to other communities. I think one

of the seriously think about in this

country is we have to step out

of the political arena and look at what is a viable water

strategy for Australia over the

next three decades and how do

we harness sources of

that flow out to oceans and we

lose the benefit of as well as

looking at the whole process of

- I honestly believe we've got

consult with and consult well with people in with people in the Murray-Darling Basin, but also those affected further

downstream. The other issue is

we shouldn't be caught up just

in the debate of in the debate of the environment which Bob Brown has taken us to on this matter because once we're going to have to be very

have to be very strategic, reform is absolutely critical

for the Murray-Darling Basin

region and I think that we have

to balance that too with the provision security for all Australians as well as the food that we export

to countries where they don't

have the same capability. Would

it be better in order to

develop a long-term plan for at the Federal level Government

and Opposition to find a bipartisan position or bipartisan position or some

common ground common ground on this one? Look, I would certainly lean

that way and I would argue that case. I think this morning,

too, I watched the telecast of both the Minister and our

leader, Tony, both talked about

reform and I think, I must compliment and I certainly noticed that Tony acknowledged

the Minister's presence there.

I think that was absolutely important. Yes, I do, I think

we've got to Transcend the

politics of all of this and politics of all of this

look at what is best for our

nation and look at the

opportunities of harnessing a

gives us the food bowls that resource that gives us life

gives us the food bowls that we

need to provide for all in our

country. On that note, that's where we'll leave it. Champion

and Ken Wyatt thank you very

much for your time. Thanks. Thank you very much Lyndal. Thank you for Lyndal. Thank you for joining

Capital Hill. Please be

Good night. Closed Captions us at the same time tomorrow.

by CSI