Interest fee

Highest-paid advisors call for new fee structure

Just months after handing himself a 22 per cent pay rise, Queanbeyan advisers are now seeking to change the way wages are set in New South Wales.

In June, councilors voted to raise their own salaries from a midpoint of the allowed range to the maximum amount, according to the recent annual report of the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal.

Councilors now earn $25,310 a year – a 22% increase – while the mayor’s total fees have increased by 33% to $87,820.

The Local Government Act requires councils to pay an annual fee to councilors and mayors, but the Remuneration Tribunal sets a minimum and maximum amount for these fees.

Now councilors will file a motion before the state’s local government body seeking an amendment to the Local Government Act to remove the terms of a ‘minimum and maximum range’ from the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal.

The motion, put forward by Councilor Edwina Webster, suggests that a single annual fee be payable to councillors, county council members and mayors in each class.

Webster argues that by proposing the amendment, he will remove the perception that councilors were giving themselves a pay rise.

“Determining a range, with a minimum and a maximum, creates a difficult debate for council with some public perception that councilors are giving themselves a big pay raise, if they decide to accept the maximum,” Webster said.

‘Simple amendments to remove words as set out in the relevant sections of the Local Government Act (1993) would solve this problem and remove any doubt of a conflict of interest in the council’s decision-making process.’

Despite previously voting in favor of a pay raise, Councilor Bryce Wilson said it was “dumb” that councilors had to approve their own pay raises.

“The other levels of government are not required to vote on their own expense, it’s a stupid situation where we have to decide our own range,” Wilson said.

“It’s not happening in state parliament, it’s not happening in federal parliament…it’s something we’ve been trying to resolve for some time.”

In a statement to CityNewsQueanbeyan Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) Chief Executive Rebecca Ryan said:

“CRPQ advisors do not believe it is appropriate for them to vote on the level of compensation they receive and wish to remove this ambiguity.

“It is more appropriate that the decision on councilors’ pay is determined solely by an independent local government pay tribunal.”

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Ian Meikle, editor