To the Editor
I am appalled by recent press and public attacks on the remuneration of Members of Parliament particularly as those attacks are linked with complaints that we do not get people of high calibre into the job.
It is little wonder that Premier Mike Baird “has had enough”. Our loss, his gain.
I was elected to the Australian Parliament in1975 at the age of 35. I was well educated but had not travelled widely and had mainly experienced middle class life. I had been overseas once, never experienced the great Australian outback and the resource rich areas. I knew little of the Middle East, nothing of Asia and the Pacific. Easter Europe was a mystery. My electorate was multicultural, middle class and mainly affluent. As a Parliamentarian, I was expected to participate in all votes, many committees and be well informed on numerous issues. I had never been to a Rugby Union game, seen a mine, been in a hospital except for tonsils and appendix and the birth of three children.
Travel is a great educator. How can you responsibly vote on something you have never seen or experienced? When you are away from your wife and children and your wife bears the full load plus unpaid electorate responsibilities, is it unfair that as part of your salary package they get the odd opportunity to share your life. That is not an entitlement. It is part of the employment package of an MP.
I agree that some MP”s, and in my experience few, have manipulated the system shamelessly, but the answer is supervision not reducing the ability of conscientious and hardworking MP’s and Ministers to gather the necessary experience to do their job.
My deep sympathy goes out to Mike Baird.