Chief Minister Michael Gunner will take home $325,392 in base pay this year, and his cabinet team will pocket $268,448 each, following recommendations from the Remuneration Tribunal that came into effect on election day, August 22.
Mr Gunner and his new cabinet ministers, who were sworn in yesterday by the Administrator, will take home their base pay, in addition to other perks and benefits, including a free car for personal use, generous travel allowances and chauffeured vehicle services.
There are also electorate allowances of between $60,000 and $120,000 that can be spent however a politician sees fit, with no public reporting requirements.
Then there are meal allowances, reimbursement for child care services on weekends and other hours where a member is “working or attending events” and business-class flights for carers and partners included in the complete Member of the Legislative Assembly pay packets – a yearly total for which has never been publicly disclosed.
All MLAs from outside the greater Darwin region are also entitled to $400 a day in travel allowance, plus money for an “accompanying person”, regardless of accomodation used, with no receipts required. Meals and other costs are also covered by taxpayers and do not have to be publicly reported.
Mr Gunner, by comparison to his interstate colleagues, is currently the lowest paid of all state or territory leaders, earning $200,000 less than his friend Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and $30,000 less than ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
Former treasurer Nicole Manison, who this week was dumped from the treasurer role, will not see any cut to her paycheck, taking home $292,852 a year as the Deputy Chief Minister.
Opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro will also pocket a ministerial salary of $268,448, plus benefits. Her yet to be announced deputy leader of the Opposition will earn $211,504 a year.
The Speaker also receives a ministerial salary, but has even more benefits and expense accounts at their disposal.
A true and accurate figure for what MLAs cost taxpayers in salary and other benefits and expenses cannot be accurately calculated due to a lack of historical non-disclosure.
The Remuneration Tribunal, headed by former Labor treasurer Syd Stirling and former under-treasurer Michael Martin, did not recommend a pay rise this year for MLAs, although other electorate benefits were adjusted based on redistribution figures of certain electorates.
The tribunal of two came under scrutiny last month when it was revealed they were paid an average of $318 an hour – or $27,000 – for less than a couple weeks’ work in 2018 to recommend scrapping the requirement for politicians to publicly report where they travelled at taxpayers’ expense.
Mr Martin said at the time that he was following directives from Administrator Vicki O’Halloran who requests the tribunal review MLA pay and entitlements every year.
The base salary for an elected MLA remains unchanged from last year at $162,696. Appointments to different parliamentary committees can see pay increased by more than $30,000 a year.
Despite Mr Gunner’s $325,392 base salary, he is actually making less than many senior NT public servants, some of which are paid more than $600,000 a year, plus benefits.