September 18

No wonder they want a republic

[ The new Premier, Mr. Rees , who once worked briefly as a garbageman, has dropped senior ministers Michael Costa and Frank Sartor.

 When Frank Sartor was independent Lord Mayor of Sydney, the City Council used ratepayers funds to campaign for a republic during the 1999 referendum, putting Vote Yes banners along major city streets.] 

No wonder some republican politicians want a republic.

With the president , vice president , deputy president , governors , lieutenant governors, administrators  and others, this will give them a golden opportunity  to fill even more positions with husbands, wives ,  and friends together with vast numbers of  expensive spin doctors all working for their re-election.

New South Wales politicians seem to be leading the country in conspicuous self indulgence at the expense of the taxpayer. Perhaps this state is a model for the republic which the politicians crave.

According to one report the former NSW Premier Morris Iemma, had more media minders than George W. Bush and Kevin Rudd.

This was made by DD McNicoll, “Strewth”, The Australian, 13 August 2008.

Whether this is true or not, Mr. Iemma seemed to have an extraordinarily large staff to control his media message.

Mr. Iemma  kept the Governor out of her home Government  House, because he is too embarrassed to reverse his predecessor Bob Carr’s decision to expel the Governors.

 

ACM is writing to the new Premier Mr. Rees to see whether he will reverse this decision.

In the meantime, with an office and driver, Mr Carr manages to eke out an existence on his parliamentary superannuation assisted by a lucrative consultancy with the Macquarie Bank.

In October last year, the NSW Premier had 28 personal staff – including media minders, political strategists, policy advisers, and secretarial and administrative workers – with a total wages bill of $3,488,983. That gave them an average salary of $124,606.  

Lisa Carty reports that by the end of June 2008 – the total annual wages bill for 29 staff had jumped to $4,404,000 (“ Union fury over wages explosion,” Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August, 2008)

She says that while the former Premier told emergency service workers they should be happy with a 2.5per cent pay rise, the wages bill for his private staff has gone through the roof, topping $5million for the first time.

Three new staff came from Channel Nine: John Choueifate (estimated to be on $250,000);  Dale Paget ($150,000-plus) and  Adam Walters (estimated salary $200,000).

…how NSW ministers commute…


 

Mr. Waters was reported to have been romantically involved with the former NSW Minister for Health, Reba Meagher, who has since indicating she is leaving politics.

When she does she will receive some most generous superannuation funded mainly by the taxpayers.

Her romantic life would normally be a private matter, but for her late departure in a taxi from a private function in a Sydney night club .

This hit the headlines when Simon Benson revealed in the Daily Telegraph on 12 August 2008 that the then minister’s driver had been kept up all night waiting for them:“Chauffeur furious at nightclubbing Reba Meagher”.

 Apparently the minister’s chauffer was not entitled to receive overtime for this and was anxious to go home to his wife.

The former Minister blamed a member of staff for not contacting him. Apparently NSW ministers have their drivers’ numbers in the memory of their mobile phones.

Miranda Divine writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on 14 August 2008 refers to other examples of the former Minister’s private use of her driver (“Grimly waiting for the raging Reba”)

…jobs for all the caucus…

In the meantime, the NSW Government is “blowing almost $3.5 million a year on salary bonuses and allowances” for almost all its MPs, according to a report on 18 August, 2008 by Joe Hildebrand, Political Reporter of the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

 

Of the 71 government MPs in NSW, 57 have some form of additional salary on top of their $126,550 base pay and $38,000 to $80,000 in electoral allowances and other perks.

 

The report says that many are for “relatively minor duties” such as being assistant speaker, chair of a committee or a parliamentary secretary to a minister.

This, and the size of the personal staff ministers have these days is becoming a scandal.

 

Our greatest Prime Ministers, John Curtin and Sir Robert Menzies, had not need for such gargantuan personal staff.

Nor did they see any reason to remove one of the core institutions from our constitutional system, or to shred our flag.

[Cartoon by Nicholson from "The Australian" newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au ]


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