Public service fat cats make like bandits as workers’ pay neutered

The most recent wages price data from the ABS shows that public sector wages have grown far more strongly than the private sector over the past five years:

With this data in mind, The New Daily reports that Australia’s highest ranked public servants are earning close to $1 million:

If you want to see a more comprehensive list of who earns what this official table above gives more detail. If you want to put names to the roles a quick google search will help out…

The table below details the pay of another cohort of highly paid public sector workers, the mandarins who head the government departments themselves. They are also living high on the government payroll…

This pay table details many departmental leaders but leaves out the most powerful of the mandarins. One is Treasury Secretary Philip Gaetjens, who earns a handy $892,00 per annum.

The other is the top bureaucrat, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Martin Parkinson. He is the highest paid public servant taking home $914,000 from the public purse a year…

The question on people’s minds is whether our public servants are worth the big bucks. Some international comparisons show them doing extremely well with the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin being paid around $US210,000 or $A304,000. And that’s for managing an economy about 15 times the size of ours.

This is another sad reflection on the Australian economy. Senior bureaucrats, politicians, consultants and senior executives in the private sector are receiving strong increases in their already exorbitant pay, whereas ordinary workers’ wages stagnate. And this situation will be made worse by the Morrison Government via its massive high-income tax cuts.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.


    • ErmingtonPlumbing

      As the article points out Dom only if your at the top.
      Whether we are talking public or private sector the Cnts in charge have to much power.

      • DominicMEMBER

        Don’t disagree, Ermo. I just think, given that comparison with the bureaucrats in the US (Steve Mnuchin etc) our guys are grossly overpaid. Add to which, public sector jobs are pretty much gold-plated so they shouldn’t be earning money like that. At least in the private sector you’re likely to get the bullet if you don’t perform.

        And just to be clear, I don’t include the Big 4 banks in the ‘private sector’ category — with a taxpayer guarantee they are quasi public sector institutions and at $10-15m per CEO are the among the most grossly overpaid execs in the world (outside the US).

      • @Dom you’ve gotta pay them good otherwise those libertarian types will bugger off to a house painting gig thingy with a side(ing) of weatherboard

      • And because they are on a good wicket, there’s no rocking the boat to undertake any radical, that is, needed changes. Hence the big pay to keep them quiet and not rocking the boat.

        Yes men, or yes people, don’t come cheap.

      • JohnR ….

        I’m as about as anti libertarian as it gets, same goes for corporatism, so back it up before popping off with back handed slurs mate.

    • Strange Economics

      And they are paid proportional to their benefit to the bubble and banks.
      Yes look APRA 1 and 6 , they have done a great job quietly supporting the bubble with quiet meetings with bank CEOs…

  1. arescarti42MEMBER

    Meh – given some of those listed are managing organisations with tens of thousands of staff and budgets of tens of billions of dollars, they don’t seem to be getting that great a deal.

    Equivalent positions in the private sector earn buckets more.

    • If you could point me to the data which shows the higher the CEO or Head’s wage the better the organisational performance I would be eternally grateful.

      • Surprising to see a left wing statement from you!

        What next? “If you could point me to the data which shows the higher the homelessness rate the better the organisational performance of the nation”?

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Hasn’t all the actually ‘managing’ been outsourced to the private sector already?

    • I don’t mind the quantum but that more should be “on risk”. They get this whether they do a good (or most likely bad) job. These govt departments are mostly fat and inefficient. I could save a minimum 10% of ANY departments budget in a 12 month period easily (and I say this as a former State Treasury official who looked at many areas of a State government)

    • Yes. Competing with private sector salaries to attract and retain persons who can competently manage the large organisations and budgets. Also helps insulate against the potential for bribery and corruption. Having these most senior public sector jobs underpaid isn’t a desirable option.

  2. Surprisingly the Commissioner of Taxation is not included on the list – He’s on just under $800k as well

  3. Meh. You don’t get paid that much to be Chief of the Army. But most people will object because of jealousy and greed.

    • It is amazing rule of law works here. if this was Africa they’d be a coup to get those salaries commensurate with the other mandarins.

      • Maybe the guy has only just found out by reading MB. Him, the Navy chap and the Air Force chap are currently discussing it over pink gins at the Naughty Hellfire Club.

    • That jumped out at me too. Head of the Armed Forces on $300k less than Byers. Mind blown.

  4. Sigh ….. private sector has been driving down wages since productivity and wages diverged, mopes were force to gamble in the casino seeking yield in equities [zip rights to assets w/ side of pumping C-suite remuneration] in lieu of ….

    Yet in the instance of public administrators one could argue, as does the private sector, that the level of expertise is concordant with pay. So if you want good politicians they should be payed at executive levels and then end private funding [cough bribes – see Milgram] in politics.

    • In the 1980s, did entry level jobs in the private sector used to pay more than entry level jobs in the public sector?

      • In the case of developed country’s post WWII the deal was that public sector employees forgo a chance at rapid advancement based on market metrics for a solid long term job [sorta like factory work in the day], for those seeking more risk with a chance to advance quicker you could go into the private sector and come and go as you want.

        Funny thing about the latter in case your youth or personal observations may of missed it, but during the 80s there was this whole head hunting thingy and people just used an employer to get a leg up and then jump ship to the next best offer – rinse and replete for individual [tm] profit, this became a big issue and contracts now reflect it.

        But again the whole thing was front run by the so called free market [tm] metrics w/ a side of the ideological underpinnings as derived from inductive “reasoning” [tm] as dictated by notions of equilibrium [patented economic law] ….

  5. SupernovaMEMBER

    Thank you MB for this information:
    Unfortunately their wage and salary entitlement absurdity also extends to their equally super-generous defined benefit superannuation of on average more than 2x their leaving salary for the rest of their lives. Blue collar shipyards unions receive all the negative attention whilst Australia’s most powerful union…..Public Sector Union…..this behemoth of unaccountability, is left discreetly in the shadows, ignored by most journalists so continues to leave the Australian public ignorant.
    Australia’s Public Sector Union is in desperate need of review, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it.

    • I think you’ll find this is inaccurate. Happy to be proven wrong though. 2 X final salary isn’t how these are usually worked out. Anyway they closed all defined benefit entry schemes for new entrants years ago.

  6. A lot of public sector jobs are simply a tax on the rest of the population – 3 layers of government anyone?

    Foreigners should be banned from working in sub $100k/year public sector jobs.