Ross Greenwood speaks to Liberal Senator, David Leyonhjelm, who has slammed the decision to give politicians a 2% pay rise, saying politicians shouldn’t receive a raise until they bring the budget back into the surplus.
Introduction: When was the last time you got a pay cut?
Ross Greenwood : Let’s get to that point of at have seen you public servants and politicians getting a pay rise. Maybe will take your calls 131873. When was the last time you got a pay rise? I’d be interested to know how far back it is since somebody actually didn’t get one, if you know what I mean.
Maybe never had one, maybe some people probably have been working for three or four years could say that. Anyway give us a call on 131873. One person who does not want a pay rise, strangely enough, is one of a group of our federal politicians.
Now, the 2% pay rise has been awarded to our politicians federally, and also are saying in public servants, by the independent remuneration tribunal. On the face of it it’s all above board.
Well, Senator David Leyonhjelm, the Liberal Democrat, says, “Well, maybe we shouldn’t actually be giving our politicians a pay rise until they get the budget back in the surplus.” Maybe he’s right, he’s on the line right now, many thanks for your time, David.
Interview with: David Leyonhjelm, Senator, Liberal Democrats
David Leyonhjelm: Good day, Ross.
Ross Greenwood: Is this a case of performing you with the pay rise? 2%’s neither here nor there, surely.
David Leyonhjelm: Yes, my view is that generally speaking, if you perform well, you deliver high productivity for your employer in your organization whatever, that should be the basis for pay rise.
Largely that’s true, all these complains about lack of pay rise for most of people is due to the fact that productivity hasn’t been rising and as a result the firms that employ them haven’t felt that there’s been a justification for it.
The question then is, okay, how do you judge the productivity and the performance, the output if you like of a politician? My view is you can certainly judge them by negative factors, sometimes you can judge them by positive factors. A lot of disagreement about what that might be.
A negative factor is not balancing the budget, spending on money than is coming in. Our governments have been doing it now since about 2007, I think, was the last time we had a balance budget, a proper balance budget.
My argument is, if we going to give politicians a pay rise, then at least link it to something tangible in the way of performance.
Ross Greenwood: I get that and a lot of the people sit there and nod their heads. However of course, this covers all politicians from all political spectrum’s. From that point of view, it is pretty difficult, you might be able to point at the treasurer, the Finance Minister. Maybe the Prime Minister and those in the Cabinet, and say, “Well, you have them balance the books.”
Those on the opposition benches or on the crossbenches might say, “Well, we don’t actually have anything to do with whether the books are balanced or not, that’s all up to the government.” Isn’t that a pretty hard measure or hurdle to put in front of a person, as to whether they deserve a pay rise or not?
David Leyonhjelm: Well, no, incentives matter. You might have a business that employs 10,000 people and you only give the employees a pay rise when the productivity and the output performance of that business improves.
Yet the reason for that improvement in the business maybe due to handful of people and yet all 10000 people might get a pay rise. That wouldn’t be particularly uncommon. There is a joint responsibility for politicians to, in the federal parliament, that the budget is not balanced.
There’s very few of them, I think, I’d be one or very few, who actually opposes new spending. I do it, without exception, every single proposal to increase spending and I oppose it. There wouldn’t be many others who do that.
The reason that I say there is collective responsibility is excessive spending is our problem. We are spending far too much money and their argument that we’re not taxing people enough, just doesn’t stand up the scrutiny. We are highly taxed really.
Ross Greenwood: One last thing, I’d never going to let you go about this, because I hear all of that, I’ve got to say that there are vast theories that that I agree with, especially on the spending side, because you got balanced budget, as you point at, and the faster you can do that the better off the country is long term.
Tell me one thing, as we get back one reason why the budget is not been capable of being balanced. It could be argued is because of crossbench opposition, plus Labour and Green opposition, to many measures of come down in the budget.
Just explain to me hardly Senate, in particular, will be constituted, according to your reckoning, once it sits again, given what’s taken place especially with One Nation?
David Leyonhjelm: Well, you’re quite right. The most the crossbench is equally capable if Labour and the Greens, for the fact that we have a budget deficit, a chronic budget deficit and a massive debt, that’s probably the bigger issue, 500, 600 per billion dollars of net debt.
What’s changed is not very much from the government’s point of view. From my point of view, as a crossbench Senator, my relationships with the some of them have altered slightly.
Steve Martin, for example, is now a member of the nationals, so I’ll talk to him like I talk to other nationals.
Lucy, that was sometime ago joined the liberal party. My relationship with her’s comparable to what it is with the other members of the liberal party.
Fraser joined the Australia party, that doesn’t change anything.
He’s the only representative of the party in the parliament. He is like me, I’m the only member of the Liberal Democrats. Fraser and I get on very well. We work together quite closely and he’s a very genial guy as well.
The One Nation situation has no material effect on me. The fact that Brian Burston has left, well, hasn’t left One Nation, but he has left the party room, I suppose is the right way to put it, with Pauline, and will be voting independently, is likely to lead him to look for allies elsewhere on the crossbench.
I have a quite good relationship with him and I anticipate I’ll work more closely with him. In the end, the government will still require all of the crossbench votes except fore two. The crossbench is now down to 10. It has been up to 12 in this parliament, but every time that each occasion that is required all but two votes.
In fact it’s been no different from the election of the Abbott government 2014, when the new Senate was sworn in, at that time the government needed six out of eight, I think it was crossbenches. It has needed 10 out of 12, nine out of 11, now is down to 8 out of 10. Every time its can only afford to lose three votes.
In practical terms, the crossbench is just as much an issue for the government as it ever has been whenever the Greens and Labour are on the other side.
Ross Greenwood: It’s going to be fascinating watching exactly how the dynamics do play out. Senator David Leyonhjelm and has he says the only Senator from the Liberal Democrats in our federal parliament and, David, I appreciate your time.
David Leyonhjelm: Thanks, Ross.
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