News

State Member for Shepparton’s salary up for review

By James Bennett

Voters in the Shepparton electorate have the rare chance to determine Suzanna Sheed’s salary with the Victorian Government setting up a new tribunal.

The Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal will ‘‘comprehensively review’’ the value of all Victorian MPs basic salary and allowances.

The government has set up an online questionnaire allowing Victorians to share their thoughts.

Although independent, Ms Sheed was considered a backbencher, leaving her with a base salary of $163 185 before parliamentary expenses.

Under the Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Superannuation Act 1968 (Vic), Victorian cannot have a basic salary higher than federal backbenchers — which is $211 250.

Ms Sheed was in favour of introducing the tribunal under the Act.

‘‘I supported the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal and Improving Parliamentary Standards Bill 2019 in February,’’ she said.

‘‘The tribunal will independently set salary and wages for parliamentarians and executive public servants as per its legislated role and this is appropriate.

‘‘The purpose of the tribunal is to keep the decision making process for salaries for parliamentarians at arms-length from the parliament.

‘‘This is an intended outcome which I welcome, hence my support of the Act.’’

All MPs are also entitled to a $13 054 work-related parliamentary allowance, including travel, expense, motor vehicle and accommodation sitting allowance.

‘‘As an independent member without a party apparatus and the financial and staffing support a major party provides, my office works hard to get the best value out of our electoral budget,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘Serving a large rural community some distance from Melbourne and the State Parliament presents challenges, but we work within our budget for our electorate and the needs of our constituents to achieve the best possible outcomes.’’

The questionnaire also asks Victorians to provide feedback on MP engagement, ranging from once a week to never.

People can also provide why they have engaged with their MP for any reason, including complaints, suggestions, discussing certain matters and seeking other information.

Ms Sheed said she would not self evaluate her engagement performance.

‘‘That is for my constituents to judge. I thank them for increasing my vote at the 2018 election and I will continue to advocate for them to the best of my ability,’’ she said.

‘‘I encourage my constituents to make their voices heard on this and any other matter.

‘‘Voting in an independent to a long neglected electorate has brought about enormous political attention, political change and government investment.’’

Victorian politicians received a 2.92 per cent pay rise on July 1. Premier Daniel Andrews earns just under $400 000.

All submissions must be submitted by 6 pm on Monday, August 16. Visit engage.vic.gov.au for more details.