Thursday 16 December 2010

Cairns councillors award themselves a $2,300 Christmas present

What does it say when the majority of our regional councillors blindly accept an annual pay increase, whilst most of us have less and less money, yet they ask us for more every year?

The latest Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal recommended salary increases of 2.5% for councillors. The Tribunal has also called for a full review of Council remuneration categories: read more rate rises.

Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier, along with Councillors Di Forsyth, Rob Pyne, Kirsten Lesina and Julia Leu, all voted against the Tribunal's recommendation at yesterday's meeting.

"Margaret and Blakey supported it, and had a majority with Gregory, Sno and Coops," Cr Robert Pyne told CairnsBlog.

"Val deserves credit for once, no, for the third time," Councillor Rob Pyne said. "I publicly declared my [pay increase] will go to the Mayor's Christmas Appeal."

This is the third year in a row that Val Schier has turned down the pay rise recommended by the Local Government Tribunal.

"I declined the pay rise because of the tough economic conditions and Cairns’ high unemployment in the region," Val Schier said

Councillor Paul Gregory voted to accept the Tribunal's recommendation rise of 2.5%.

"I have no comment to make on Val's decision not to accept it," Councillor Gregory told CairnsBlog. Linda Cooper also said sher had no comment about Val’s stance.

However with a majority of Councillors accepting the 2.5% pay rise, their $91,380 salary will be topped up another $2,280. As Deputy Mayor, Margaret Cochrane’s will now receive $103,695.
Schier takes home $139,220.

"I voted against the pay rise, as I did last time," Councillor Kirsten Lesina said. "I think Val shows great leadership in rejecting a pay rise at a time when unemployment is still high in Cairns and when we know many people will be struggling to make ends meet over the holiday period. It's a pity more Councillors didn't follow Val's lead and vote against the pay rise."

Julia Leu said she voted against a payrise because there are too many residents and businesses struggling financially at present.

At yesterday's meeting that approved the increase, it was noted the Tribunal’s recommendation about recreational and leave provisions for Councillors.

Schier has spent just over $6,000 of her $27,000 travel and accommodation budget, for the first four months. No budget was determined for councillors however this is what others have spent: Paul Gregory $762; Nancy Lanskey $332; Alan Blake $1,581; Linda Cooper $1,832; Diane Forsyth $695; Margaret Cochrane $2,970. Julia Leu, who has the biggest geographical division to look after, chalked up $2,706. Rob Pyne and Kirsten Lesina did not incur any costs. Sno Bonneau is in credit $15. Work that one out.

One of the objectives of Council's Corporate Plan is to ensure that our Council is "open,
accountable, ethical and financially responsible." The Plan says Council plays "a
leadership role for our immediate communities and for the wider region and will strive to
represent our community’s needs and expectations." With the best will in the world, new CEO Lyn Russell would genuinely believe in this mantra, however can you read the contradictions here?

The supreme irony here is that Cairns Regional Council has consistency put up our rates every year since it was elected in March 2008. It's likely this trend will continue, in the face of a continued depressed local economy.


Michael Hyams said...

Oh dear, Here's me thinking we lived in a democracy. Silly me

Michael Hyams said...

Democracy is getting expensive inst it. What about a cost/benefit study ?

Harry Morton said...

G'day, In 1931 the then Labor Government reduced the wages of railway workers. This allowed the opposition Moore government to attain office. The Labor insiders laughed at the alleged loss and stated that the Moore government would last just one term and the opposition government would not get back in for another thirty years. That is what happened. The present insiders are deliberately losing this election so the LNP will inherit an impossible financial situation and make a mess of it and the economy will start to pick up by the time of the next election and the ALP will have a rough first year but recover before the next election.

Alison Alloway said...

Oh for heavens sake, the matter of salaries for elected representatives has NEVER ever been of any issue to voters. That has been proven again and again and again. Over the years, at various times, the ALP and the National Liberal Coalition have ALL declined raises...the electorate didn't give a rats' stuff at the ballot box. Proof of the pudding is look at the comments here....Val is criticised for not taking the raise, as she would have been for taking the raise.