Whilst it is perfectly reasonable for the media to give Macquarie Bank’s extraordinary pay packets a huge run, it is important to keep things in perspective.

The Age wrongly claimed that the figures reported were “take home” pay rates. Truth be known, they are pre-tax figures, something that Peter Costello should contemplate when he next bags the bank’s executive pay rates at the same time as gloating about his brilliant budget surplus.

The annual report says that Macquarie CEO Allan Moss was paid $33.5 million in the 12 months to 31 March, so that means the Treasury will pocket about $15 million in personal tax payments.

Cossie kept his counsel yesterday, but The Australian quoted an “insider” on page one today:

He sees people benefiting from his hard work on the economy, enjoying the fruits of the Government’s labour and earning obscene amounts of money that he could never earn.

This really is delusional because Cossie has absolutely nothing to do with the global mining boom propelling the Australian economy and he should be thanking Macquarie for delivering him billions in tax revenue generated offshore. Macquarie’s slightly provocative declaration that it considered shifting offshore was clearly designed to garner some more respect from people like the Treasurer.

These profits haven’t come from being a member of the big bank cartel ripping off Australians, but rather from Macquarie’s pioneering push on the global stage to become the world’s biggest infrastructure investor.

Deals like buying explosives giant Dyno-Nobel and flipping it from Oslo to Sydney, whilst making a $260 million profit on the way, are profoundly positive for a little nation with few genuinely global companies based in Australia.

Even Terry McCrann’s attacks today were hypocritical given that he never criticises Rupert’s Murdoch’s $30 million-plus salary and, unlike Macquarie, News Corp has grossly underperformed on the All Ords over the past 20 years.

Australian Shareholders’ Association deputy chairman John Curry was on ABC radio declaring the pay packets to be “outrageous” this morning and Michael O’Sullivan, chairman of the powerful Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) told Jon Faine it was “egregious”.

If so, ACSI members should change their position from 2006 and vote against the Macquarie Bank remuneration report at this year’s AGM in Sydney on 19 July. ACSI members gave the formula a huge tick last year when 93.19 million shares were voted in favour of the remuneration report and only 2.11 million against.

ACSI members will no doubt be lining up to buy plenty of the $750 million worth of new shares being offered at about $88 a pop in the current placement that sees Macquarie Bank shares still suspended this morning.