MPs may have to pay back funds from pay rise
POLITICIANS may be required to pay back the fruits of their recent pay rise if a newly established independent salary tribunal decides the pay hike was too high.
Premier Campbell Newman flew home from an overseas family holiday on Thursday to face the music over the MPs' pay rise saga.
Fronting the media for the first item on the issue, Mr Newman said he would clear up the mess once and for all.
He revealed a five-point plan, including setting up an independent remuneration tribunal in Queensland to set MP pays and allowances.
The Newman government will also legislate to block former and current MPs from claiming the back pay they are currently entitled to due to an unlawful salary freeze in 2009.
The independent tribunal has until October to make a determination on pay rates, which cannot be challenged or changed by a politician.
The link between state and federal MPs salaries - set by a Canberra-based tribunal - will also be severed.
Queensland MPs were awarded a 41% base salary increase this month after the government acted to fix former Premier Anna Bligh's unlawful pay freeze.
Mr Newman explained MPs would have to hold onto their inflated pay cheques between now and when the new tribunal rates are set in case the new rates are lower.
Their decision will be backdated to apply to salaries from July 1.
"The money will be there with them (MPs) and they will need to hold on to that and account for that," he said.
"Because when the independent tribunal hands down their decision, pay will have to be adjusted to ensure over the 2013-2014 financial year people get what the remuneration tribunal have agreed will be the correct amount of money."
He gave an example where if he had been paid too much, then in the upcoming pay periods his pay would "drop" so the money could be recovered.
The pay rise initially prompted a $57,000 pay increase for MPs base salaries and also propped up entitlements paid to officer-bearers, including for committee and ministerial positions.
Mr Newman confirmed the government would also look at reviewing the way allowances are paid to MPs.
"It will be expenses rather than essentially a slush fund," he said.
Bond University Vice-Chancellor Tim Brailsford, Australian Manufacturers Workers' Union Queensland secretary David Harrison and Multicap chief executive officer Joanne Jessop will sit on the tribunal for a three-year term.
Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed the allowances process could be looked at but criticised the need for a five-point plan.
"There should have been one-point plan," she said.
"And that one point plan should have been to listen to Queenslanders for day one.
"This is a premier who could have solved these issues months, if not a year ago."
Ms Palaszczuk pointed out updated allowance rate figures earlier this week that showed Mr Newman was in line for a $400,000 salary because of the pay increase.