The quest for a formula : parliamentary remuneration in Western Australia

M. J. Britton, Edith Cowan University


The Western Australian Payment of Members Act 1900 was promulgated upon two tenets, namely, that Members of Parliament should be compensated for their services to society and that other Australian colonies were already receiving some form of compensation. The premise stipulated that all people, regardless of economic background should be given an opportunity to fulfil the honourable duly of a Representative. Remuneration in this thesis covers the minimalist advent of Parliamentary Remuneration whereby Mrs were compensated by way of a basic salary to the current multifaceted Parliamentary Remuneration which encompasses various structures, processes and is often overarched by complicated determinative methodologies. Remuneration was the original term given for the payment of services rendered. The contemporary understanding of Remuneration extends to salary, superannuation ;Ind an additional raft of entitlements. Since the form of Parliamentary Remuneration has evolved, so too has public disputation grown over the various entitlements that MPs receive. Parliamentary Remuneration has become a highly contentious issue. However, despite the nature of the topic there is a surprising absence of research on the topic. This study is the only known historical and analytical account of Parliamentary Remuneration that has been written apart from reports prepared by Governmental agencies or Parliamentary Remuneration tribunals. The Quest for a Formula will review the historical remunerative determinations that have occurred within Western Australia since the tum of the 20th Century, contrasting the findings of this study against historical experiences that can be drawn from other democratic-Commonwealth countries such as Britain and Canada. For comparison the thesis will also investigate how various enterprises, both public and private, remunerate their employees in accordance to various performance management indicators. This study suggests that the methods that have been at use within Western Australia, and various other Commonwealth-based jurisdictions, may require an overhaul. However, given the unique nature of parliamentary duties, attempts to provide a set of performance criteria have proved difficult to establish. Nonetheless this thesis proposes a systematic determinative process that is more transparent than current procedures. The thesis has found the determinative process in Western Australia to be redundant as it appears to be overlapped by the Federal Remuneration Tribunal. Many types of determinative processes have been employed by various Governments; this study illustrates the equitable methodologies compared to inequitable methods. This thesis also proposes that the general standing of an MP within Australian society may be raised through the development of a more transparent system of determination that encourages public input. Aside from this, a remunerative determination should take into consideration an MP's experience along with the size, demographics .)f their electorate. Parliament should also frequently employ private management consultants that can individually assess each MP's workload, consequently producing an impartial recommendation on the state of MP remuneration. This thesis proposes that the employment of such consultants may allow for MPs to communicate numerous ways that they could be more efficient and could also generate 'work plans' to assist them in achieving their everyday goals. This study will also find that, while a new more transparent system of determination is required within both Western Australia and Australia, the possibility of implementing a performance management system to consequently remunerate MP is highly unlikely, Finally, a recommendation of this thesis will propose new structures, processes and mathematical formulae in determining an MP's overall worth.