It pays to be a public service fat cat

Nine News has reported that Australia’s highest ranked public servants are earning between $650,000 and $900,000 per year:

The tables below detail the pay of another cohort of highly paid public sector workers – the mandarins who head the government departments themselves:

There are other highly paid bureaucrats missing from this list, such as RBA governor Phil Lowe, who is paid over $1 million – almost four times that of the US Federal Reserve chair.

In fact, as shown above, there were 19 ‘fat cats’ at the RBA paid more than $400,000 in 2017-18.

The Australian’s Adam Creighton has questioned whether this is fair in light of the current economic depression facing Australia, and has demanded pay cuts for top brass bureaucrats:

The destruction of millions of jobs and businesses that is now well in train will expose the extraordinarily high pay and conditions of the nation’s top public servants, state and federal, that typically leave foreigners and members of the public speechless.

In NSW alone, just one state, more than 3200 senior executives, none of them “frontline” staff, are paid between $200,000 and $500,000 a year. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’s salary is set to rise by $47,000 to $441,000 in July, while backbenchers’ base salaries are set to rise by almost $20,000 to $182,400.

Not much sharing of the burden there…

The largesse is even worse across Australia’s university quango, where vice chancellors typically earn between $1 million and $1.5 million (see here and here).

The hilarious thing is that universities are run as ‘charitable organisations’. Yet the degree-factories that they run, which rely on funneling as many international and domestic students as possible through cookie-cutter courses, are more akin to the very worst profit maximising corporations.

The Morrison Government should use the crisis as an excuse to take an axe to exorbitant executive pay, including that of MPs and Vice Chancellors.

The chance of this actually happening though is between 0 and naught.

Leith van Onselen


  1. Display NameMEMBER

    Australian Federal Cabinet is apparently one of the best paid in the world. Clearly this is not and has not been a reward for performance any time in the last two decades. Its a sinecure.

    And the public servants at the top level are far too well paid.

    • Given the number of people grinding away in the private sector, risking capital and their homes so that they can pay these people’s salaries, yes, it’s criminal. Disgusting, in fact.

      There really are few cosier situations than clipping the ticket in the bureaucracy. No stress or danger that you’ll lose your job i.e. a fantastic lifestyle gig for which the taxpayer gets little or no return. A legalised protection racket indeed.

  2. Be better off taking away the ‘charity’ status and taxing them like a profit making business, which they clearly are!
    That would put much more in the Govt coffers!

  3. I think Yes, Minister covered this very topic.
    Link MPs pay to public servant pay, establish an “independent” pay arbiter and you have a system which keeps both the public servants an politicians in hay with neother willing to assail the pay of the other.

    • Low blow? If the Premiers were on Jobkeeper do you think the economy would still be shut down?

      We were never ‘all in this together’. We never are. The protected class have had above average wage increases for the last decade while workers exposed to the mass immigration ponzi have had theirs stagnate.

      If they want big paypackets they should get a job in the private sector. Their pay is obscene.

  4. There are a few people on that list, maybe 5 or 6, who could afford a 3 bedroom free standing house with 10% deposit in Broadmeadows.

    So the question remains – who is buying the rest ?

  5. kannigetMEMBER

    qantas 30,000 staff $17B turnover…. CEO pay $5+million + shares… Has to simulate making a profit in a reasonably protected market.

    compared to …

    DHS 40000 staff, $160B turnover…. CEO ( equiv ) pay $700K… Has to navigate the ever changing whims of the cabinet, legislation and general public expectations all while trying to deliver support to dependant people.

    Yeah, Sure the public servant executives are over paid but if you want to lure good ones away from cushy jobs running icons into the ground you need to pay the big bucks… and I sure dont think the CEO of Qantas has anywhere near as hard a job as the head of Human Services.

    • good point – or maybe they aren’t paid enough – multiply their salary by 10 times and you may get the results you want – worked for Australia Post

  6. So basicly any of these people earn in one year what it would take me 10 years to save assuming i had no expenses at all.
    Wonderful. Seriously whats the point of any of it any more.

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      5 million dollar houses. Need an income like that to afford them with a mortgage.

  7. Strange EconomicsMEMBER

    Member of APRA (not chair) – 600K per year? Well Deserved, as by strategically doing too little too late they inflated the worlds biggest property bubble to keep Australia going. And then presumably bought themselves a 5 mill house on 8 times income on the “safe” loan ratios they approved. Not just anyone can do this.

  8. happy valleyMEMBER

    No wonder fat cats no longer (if they ever did) give frank and fearless advice to their ministerial masters. They are paid to do exactly what SFM said after the last election, they are meant to do – implement ministerial decisions?