Sep 20, 2011

RBA pay: why Glenn Stevens is not Elizabeth Taylor

The RBA's decision to jack up the pay of its most senior management by 30% during the 2008/09 financial year, the nadir of the global financial crisis, might have been impolitic, says Adam Creighton.

An exchange between Sir Humphrey Appleby and the Minister of Administrative Affairs in the early 1980s highlights best the remuneration dynamics of the public service. It went something like this:

Sir Humphrey: Her Majesty’s Civil Servants spend their lives working for a modest wage and at the end they retire into obscurity.
The Minister: A modest wage? You get over £30,000 a year. Seven thousand more than I get!
Sir Humphrey: But still a relatively modest wage.
The Minister: Relative to whom?
Sir Humphrey: Well … Elizabeth Taylor for example.
The Minister: You are not relative to Elizabeth Taylor.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

4 thoughts on “RBA pay: why Glenn Stevens is not Elizabeth Taylor

  1. stephen martin

    It certainly is a pretty good pay deal, especially when you compare it with other senior Public Service staff.
    But maybe the correct comparison is to the largesse paid to the CEOs of the big four banks; it then gives validity to the remark of it being necessary for the retention of senior staff in the Reserve Bank.



    While one cannot be sure of the detail, there is a chance this extract is not correct:

    ””””””””As for retaining staff, what fraction of governors and deputy governors in the history of the bank have been poached by better offers in the private sector? Zero is the best guess.”””””””””

    Oveer the past two decades it could well be that M J Phillips was paid more collectively for holding of senior board positions than he was paid at the RBA — and the same goes for IJ Macfarlane who now also sits very comfortably on a couple of major company boards.

    One can only hope that Bernie Fraser, who went on to be a foundation stone of the industry super fund revolution was similarly paid much more — but the better bet is that he did the wonderful job for less.

    [Check with Stephen Mayne — he has a feel for this stuff.]

  3. bluepoppy

    It is a furphy to believe that quality staff cannot be found for senior public service positions unless they are competitive with industry.

    How many CEOs have retired with large bonuses while share prices have fallen and with the company in trouble. High salaries does not = high quality in many cases. Part of working for the public service is the notion of service, otherwise nurses and doctors would be demanding million dollar salaries for much more important work.

    Elizabeth Taylor indeed.

  4. Stephen

    I had always thought of our RBA as an outstanding agency, and had blessed Coombs and soforth for their foresight in setting it up. Its reputation has been trashed by the Securency scandal, then by Stephens’ utter arrogance in front of committee, re the concealment of his salary hike. Top RBA salaries should be pulled back to the already-bloated figures earned by departmental secretaries. If the RBA head thinks he can reward himself a cool mil and no apologies, then without apologies I’ll think he’s making decisions the rich people and not the common weal.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details