Ministers defend pay rise as unions target Cabinet

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams and a paper mâché Campbell Newman protesting against the State Government MP's pay rise.
Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams and a paper mâché Campbell Newman protesting against the State Government MP's pay rise.

UPDATE: QUEENSLAND MPs are standing by their controversial $57,000 pay rise while unions have promised to remember the issue at the next election.

A vocal group of union members and public servants gathered outside the Executive Building in Brisbane this morning as Cabinet met inside to discuss the public storm erupting around the MP pay rise announcement.

All Queensland MPs will receive a $57,000 pay rise after Crown Law found a pay freeze on members salaries in 2009 was unlawful.

Correcting the wrong means state members' earnings will rise to be $500 less than Federal House of Representatives members.

However, it was revealed over the weekend Premier Campbell Newman received advice last year from the Parliamentary Clerk not to follow the Federal MPs pay rises.

It was also advised that the link between Federal MPs and State MPs salaries should be severed.

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams said the worst part of the pay affair was the deception.

"What is worse is they try to deceive the people of Queensland that they had no option," Mr Battams said.

"That's the worst part of all of this sorry affair.

"Should they change the law? Of course they should change the law."

On the way into Cabinet, Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the government should not be exempt from applying the law to itself.

"It's now a matter for parliament if it wishes to do so to review the legislation," the Caloundra MP said.

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams and firefighters protesting against the Queensland MPs pay rise.
Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams and firefighters protesting against the Queensland MPs pay rise. Ava Benny-Morrison

National Parks, Racing, Sports and Recreation Minister Steve Dickson would not confirm whether he supported changing the law to prevent hefty pay hikes in the future.

"We will be discussing the matter in Cabinet I am sure and Cabinet will come up with a decision that is appropriate for all Queenslanders," he said.

A protestor with an over sized paper mâché head piece - resembling Premier Campbell Newman - carelessly pulled fake money out of his pockets outside the government building as others chanted "LNP listen up, Queensland has had enough."

Mr Battams said the State Government should do what is has been telling others - tighten its belt.

"Its about time they do themselves what they have been doing to others for the past 18 months," he said.

"After the Cabinet meeting the Acting Premier should walk out of the door and actually announce this pay rise is off."

Wellington calls on Jarrod Bleijie to reverse pay rise law

A SUNSHINE Coast MP has called on the Newman government to reverse MPs' massive pay rises as protesters march on the executive building in Brisbane.

Independent Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington said it was obscene for the government to approve a 41% pay hike for state MPs - worth $57,000 - while blocking far smaller public servant pay rises.

Mr Wellington threw out a challenge to fellow Sunshine Coast MP Jarrod Bleijie - as Attorney-General - to bring in a law next month to retrospectively block the pay hikes for MPs.

"It really goes to who is believable,'' he told ABC radio.

"The Attorney-General's come out and given all the reasons why he can't.

"Well I've got expert constitutional law advice that contradicts the Attorney-General's advice.

"My challenge to the Attorney-General Mr Bleijie is make the law retrospective.

"Let someone go off to court and challenge it and let the court decide.''

Mr Wellington said the fact that the Newman government would take Supreme Court action to bloke an interim 2.2% increase for public servants showed the 'excesses' of the executive.

"They think they can get away for anything.''

Mr Wellington said he would not be taking the increase but would be voting against it in Parliament in August.

He said even if it approved, he would be putting the money to use in his community rather than taking it himself.

Mr Wellington did the same thing as a former Maroochy Shire councillor when there was outrage over big pay rises for councillors.

The Nambour MP said the pay freeze brought in by Anna Bligh back in 2009 was the right thing to do.

"I think all Queenslanders thought it was the right thing to do,'' he said.

Mr Wellington said it was stunning that the Premier and the Cabinet would discuss the pay rise issue but it was not announced until Mr Newman went on holiday.

"It just raises real questions in my mind about how Mr Newman wants to lead our state.

"Why does he leave it to the deputy premier to write to Members of Parliament to detail what the arrangements will be.''

"How long have they known about it?''

"They have not chosen to raise it with any of the 89 members of the Parliament.''

"Where is the discussion and transparency?'' Mr Wellington asked.

"Why wasn't this part of the Budget?''

Mr Wellington said the Newman government was continuing to waste money on things like a new Queensland plan despite crying it was broke when sacking 14,000 public servants.

He said the 'talkfest' was going to cost Queenslanders $4.6 million.

Topics:  campbell newman editors picks jarrod bleijie mps peter wellington

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