Yesterday’s announcement on parliamentary superannuation is bad news for punters, politicians – and our polity.

Let’s tackle that last one first. Anything that reinforces “one rule for them, one rule for us” populist dross damages democracy. And that’s exactly what yesterday’s decision does.

It’s bad news for punters because politicians are back on a more generous superannuation scheme than they are. Pollies should only have access to the 9% compulsory super paid by most employers.

But it’s also bad news for politicians, too. The Prime Minister warned about “mindless populism” yesterday – yet he’s just fed it.


“I think that has to be said in the interests of the longer term health of the Parliamentary system,” he said. “If we continue to engage in this mindless populism on the issue we will end up further reducing the quality of the gene pool of candidates available for high office, particularly at a time when salaries and remuneration in booming sections of the economy are so attractive.”

Yet he’s just undermined the case for better pay for parliamentarians. Politicians – ministers in particular – can argue that they’re “one rule for them, one rule for us” losers in the pay scale stakes, compared to managers in both the private and public sectors.

They should understand that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Peter Fray

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