Media – Diggers Salary Divide: Top Brass Outstrip Ranks

11 Dec 2014

A revealing piece by Ian McPhedran. News Ltd.

12793 1409363072687923 6352234421616874085 n DIGGER SALARY DIVIDE

Here is the text from Ian McPhedran’s News Ltd’s national defence writer in The Sun Herald 12 December article.

WHILE salaries for the nation’s top brass have more than doubled in the past decade and wages for politicians have jumped by 75 per cent, pay rates for the troops have grown by less than half.

Documents obtained by News Corp show that taxpayer funded wages for soldiers have risen by an average of three per cent a year since 2005 compared with seven per cent for politicians and a massive 18 per cent for the Chief of Defence Force (CDF). 

Pay rates for senior brass and politicians are set by independent tribunals, but pay scales for soldiers are set by the government and the CDF and ticked off by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. The defence boss earned $370,320 in 2005 and he now rakes in $764,000 a year or $14,692-a-week compared with a Warrant Officer Class 1 who was on $58,674 in 2005 and who now earns $85,753 a year or $1649-a-week. Service chiefs are paid $512,000-a-year or $9846-a-week. A backbench politician earned $111,150 in 2005 and is paid $195,130-a-year or $3752-a-week today. This included a massive one-off 31 per cent increase to $185,000 in March 2012.

250026 Sen. LambieMaverick Tasmanian Senator and former soldier Jacqui Lambie said there was one rule for the rich and powerful and another for the workers. She has called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to explain whether he supports the current system after he forced military personnel to take an effective pay cut for the next three years. Senator Lambie wants defence pay rises tied to politicians pay and she hopes to meet with Mr Abbott next week to discuss the pay issue. “Obviously the people who determine the pay rates of the leaders of our military, aren’t the same people who decide how much our average digger receives — and I wonder if that’s fair?” Senator Lambie said.

Research conducted by the Parliamentary Library for Senator Lambie uncovered the pay rate disparity. “I wonder how the CDF felt as he agreed with Prime Minister Abbott to recommend a yearly wage rise of only 1.5 per cent while he takes home $764,000 each year?” she said.
“The system is broken and has produced a crisis that only the PM can fix.” It is understood that defence boss Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin was given a very tight negotiating framework by the government with the starting point being a zero per cent pay rise without productivity offsets.

According to insiders the defence pay deal was to be used as the benchmark for the rest of the public service and the 1.5 per cent increase was only achieved after intense negotiations and numerous offsets which were last week reversed after a massive public campaign against the decision.

The CDF (Biskin) is the only public servant in the nation who is both employer and advocate for his staff who are banned by law from joining a trade union.

Responding to questions from News Corp, Defence said the outcome represented a balance between recognising ADF service and the fiscal restraints imposed by government. “At all stages of negotiations, the Chief of the Defence Force and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force have argued for the maximum increase available under the framework set by Government,” Defence said in a statement.


Defence dad Tony Dagger, whose petition against the current pay cut has hit 63,000 signatures, said the pay issue should be removed from the CDF. “It should be handed to an independent body or tied to politicians’ pay as suggested by Senator Lambie,” he said. “Unfortunately the CDF is part of the political game.”

Chief of the Defence Force
2005 = $370,320, 2010 = $523,860, 2015 = $764,000
Backbench MP
2005 = $111,150, 2010 = $136,040, 2015 = $195,130
Warrant Officer Class One
2005 = $58,674, 2010 = $75,789, 2015 = $85,753.