I appreciate the opportunity to make a submission.
I read very carefully your report on the Statement of Reasons in your determination on allowances earlier this year. I thought that the tribunal had a sound grasp on the greatly increased demands placed on Councillors since the last major review of allowances.
Noting this, I was flabbergasted to then read that the tribunal gave Councillors a mere $1,384 rise, noting that the previous allowances excluded superannuation, which was paid in addition, and the new allowances included superannuation. For Category 3, this meant an increase from $31,444 + $3,144 ($34,588) to $35,972.
Yet at the same time, the allowance of a Deputy Mayor inexplicably almost doubled. The role of the Deputy Mayor is only relevant where the Mayor is incapacitated. Generally at [redacted], where the Mayor has a clash and can’t make multiple events due to them running at the same time, it is a local ward councillor that is sent. Talking to my colleagues across the sector, the big discrepancy between the allowances for Councillors and Deputy Mayors has seen a sudden interest in a lot of Councillors wanting to become the Deputy Mayor, not because they’d be good in a leadership role, but because they will get paid double with very little extra commitments attached. In your Statement of Reasons, the tables with regards to survey results of time commitments for Councillors and Deputy Mayors is almost identical.
It is my strong opinion that the Tribunal missed a unique opportunity to remunerate Councillors for the large time they are required to spend reading 800+ monthly papers, attending committees, community events etc. Most residents also expect us to be on call 24/7, just like Federal and State MPs are, the difference being that our direct email address and mobile phone number are published publicly. Our residents and ratepayers assume, and expect, that we are full time. The lack of allowance is a barrier on many quality candidates putting their hand up for local government.
The current Councillor allowance is below the minimum wage and grossly inadequate for the amount of time dedicated to the role. Your statement of reasons indicates that a large number of Councillors report spending 30+ hours a week on Council matters. I strongly believe that the allowance for a Councillor should be raised to be within 10k of the Deputy Mayor’s allowance, with no change to the Mayor or Deputy Mayor allowances. This would be an appropriate allowance for Councillors, with only a 10k increase to the Deputy Mayor role which is reasonable based on my discussions with colleagues across the state in terms of the role the Deputy Mayor plays at Councils.
Reviewed 01 December 2022