There are two important reasons why MPs must vote next week (February 2020) against the Local Government Bill’s clauses to hand over Councillors’ pay to the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal (VIRT.)
The first and most obvious is that the Tribunal has already established a track record for awarding high pay rises to expensive public servants and MPs with absolutely no productivity trade-offs nor benefits for residents.
The second is that once Councillors come under the VIRT umbrella they’ll start to push to become full-time. And the major political parties will jump on the bandwagon.
The three main parties want a third tier of government as a starting platform for career politicians so they can weed out the problem makers at local government level before endorsing them for state or federal seats.
They’ll present branded ‘expert’ reports to VIRT about how much time Councillors spend with constituents (not necessarily residents - developers can be constituents too) and how difficult their role is and that if residents want Councillors to do a thorough job, it’s only fair they be paid to do it full-time.
And ratepayers might even agree - because heaven knows, if you try to get a small local problem solved you need a PhD, lots of time and possibly even lots of money.
And don’t ask a ratepayer about lodging an objection to their rates notice unless you’ve got a long drink in your hand and a lot of time.
So, residents might agree that the current system producers rubbish Councillors (pun intended.)
To which I reply: we have full-time MPs at both state and federal level. How well are they working for you? How’s your access to public health and public schools. How about essential services such as water, electricity and gas?
How about food security, protection for Australia’s natural resources, support for the elderly and the disadvantaged? How have full-time MPs managed the delivery of those services for you and others who need them?
So, if the occasion arises to vote for full-time Councillors or not - just think - “Is the extra money really going to make any difference to YOU -or just the Councillor and their political party?”