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The rich get richer whilst the Australian middle-class is out-sourced

Rich get richer; middle class is out-sourced ...

Letter to the editor

Senior public servants - earning hundreds of thousands of dollars already - received an up-to 19% pay increase; those earning minimum wage got a mere 4% increase, an additional AU$21 per week swallowed by increasing petrol and food prices.

Providing a five-fold percent increase to those already earning more than five-times minimum wage exacerbates the disparity at both ends of income. It's a veritable slap-in-the-face to those struggling to make ends meet and to get ahead, to those performing some of our most unforgiving, thankless jobs.

Even 457-visa holders must be paid at least 50% more than minimum-wage Australian citizens. This award structure ensures that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," and the middle class is increasingly populated by temporary residents, not Australians.

What's happened to Labor's advocating "wage restraint"? To the Australian "fair go"? We risk our future by "out-sourcing" our middle class, and separating our "haves" and "have nots" to ever-increasing extremes.

Judy Bamberger +61-2-6247-6220 (phone, fax)
Judy Bamberger +61-2-6247-4746 (home)
O'Connor ACT 2602 AUSTRALIA bamberg [AT]

See also: article Will Rudd Government's high immigration program turn Australia into Argentina? which originated as a comment on this article.


As reported by the ABC, the pay rise granted to Departmental Secretaries (the top level of management in a PS Department under the Minister) consists of a 4.3% pay rise, plus a one off payment of about 14% to compensate for the loss of performance based bonuses. The ALP says this is a good thing because it tends to de-politicise the public service, the Libs say it's bad because it takes away the incentive to perform.
I say it's a pity that the public service has to compete with skyrocketing private sector salaries to attract and retain decent top managers.
But compete it does.
An interesting aspect of the recent reports around this rise is how little attention's been given to corresponding salaries in the private sector. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics released earlier this year, pay for full-time private sector workers increased 5.3% over the year to February to an average weekly wage of $1098.20. By contrast, full-time public service wages rose by just 2.8% over the same period, well behind both the private sector and the all-sectors average rise of 4.8%. These figures indicate that across all levels, PS wage growth has fallen behind that of the private sector. (See Private sector pay leaps ahead)
Far more dramatic is the comparison of upper management and average employee wages in Australia. In 2006, John Garnaut at the Herald said that ..
"In 1992 the salaries of chief executives were 25 times the average worker's salary - but by 2002 they were 100 times the average." I shudder to think what they are now.
Faced with such phenomenal growth in salaries, the PS has simply aped the private sector in raising the salaries of its top managers.
Meanwhile, those in the lower orders of both the public and private sectors are being offered pay rises that are less than CPI. They're effectively pay cuts.
The rich get richer - the poor get the picture.
And the middle class is squeezed out of existence.

Judy e-mailed me this further comment:

I've consulted to several government departments (mostly IT groups), and I've found VERY FEW so-called "senior public servants" worth their salary! Most I know are there to add to their portfolio - references and financial, both - and to prepare themselves for that next move. Or riding it out until they can take early retirement (at 54 years, 9 months).

Immigration, defence, health, communication ... I have little faith in our senior public servants; I cannot watch Yes Minister cuz it's so tragically sad how true it seems!