NSW bureaucrats pay rise. Copying the autocrats.

29 Oct

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Nathan Rees government has approved the pay rise of its top bureaucrats by up to 5 million dollars. According to the scoop, ‘853 senior executive officers and CEOs have been awarded a 3.9 per cent pay rise‘ and that these elites, ‘will also get an extra $43,000 allowance just for staying in their jobs‘. The reason for the increase is shocking – i.e. it is needed because the bureaucrats pay structure can stay ‘competitive with the private sector’.

Such poorly worded justifications remind me of Australia’s neighbouring technocratic Singapore, whose ministers and top civil servants are paid obscenely as its poor tries to scrape by.  In a commentary on the salary increase of Ministers in Singapore, its Prime Minister, Mr Lee, was quoted, ‘For the public service to remain an attractive employer, our terms must keep pace with the private sector. That is why our policy is to pay public servants competitive salaries, commensurate with private-sector earnings’.

Not only have both governments adopted a similar line of ill-justified reasoning, these measures to increase the pays of top bureacrats have also been adopted in the face of growing income inequality and poverty.

In Singapore, the wealth gap is compared to that of a developing country, despite having GDP of the first-world. Its Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, is 47.2 in 2006comparable to the Philippines of 46.1; Guatemala of 48.3, and even worse than China ‘s 44.7. This was reported by Reuters, which noted that the number of Singaporeans earning less than S$1,000 (US$690) a month rose to 18% in 2006, from 16% in 2002 while those who earned S$8,000 and more, increased from 4.7% to 6% in the same period.

In Australia, while a recently released OECD report stated that income inequality has ‘fallen sharply’, poverty has in fact gone the other direction and reached 12% (which is above the OECD average). In addition, the risk of poverty has increased for those not working or single parents.

ABS statistics also revealed that ‘the incomes of households considered to have the lowest levels of economic wellbeing (i.e. those people with household income between the bottom 10% and bottom 30% of incomes) grew by 8% ($24 per week) from 2003–04 to 2005–06, an 8% growth was also recorded for middle income people compared to 13% for high income people‘. Also, ‘the wealthiest 20% of households in Australia account for 61% of total household net worth, with average net worth of $1.7 million per household’ while ‘the poorest 20% of households account for 1% of total household net worth, with an average net worth of $27,000 per household’.

A recent study by the University of Sydney on Australian workers also released grim figures. According to this survey, as many as 56% of them indicated that they are ‘finding it difficult to get by’ or ‘are just coping on their total household income’. As many as 20% of those polled claimed that they are unable to ‘pay debts on time’.

As the financial crisis is erode the savings of the public; as well as hitting the middle and lower income households hard, increasing top public servants salaries flies on the face of what is decent and just.


One Response to “NSW bureaucrats pay rise. Copying the autocrats.”

  1. Roger October 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    Sounds like NSW is becoming a sister state to Singabloodypore !

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