Take a moment to commiserate with Glen Stevens, governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia who, after a year working hard for the budget bottom line, only received a pay rise of 4.3%. By contrast, last year he scored a 6% increase for his efforts.
Despite Stevens' best effort to push up interest rates and the cost of mortgages, and his threats to go further if wage demands exceed 2.5%, he and a range of senior federal public service appointees, received less of a pay rise than the year before. While it was the June 10 Sydney Morning Herald which reported Stevens' predicament, the exact sum Stevens and his ilk are paid isn't easily available.
It wouldn't be so bad for Stephens if the people who work for him — the senior executive service of the public service — hadn't scored a 6% increase. He must be asking himself what he did wrong. How will he cope now after receiving a pay rise that is equivalent to the current rate of inflation?
There was no word that Stephens had agreed to a "productivity gain" to secure his pay increase, as other workers are being asked to do. Was he forced to give up his tea break, his rostered day off, or his chauffeur-driven car?
Meanwhile, in NSW the firefighters and nurses are being offered a pay increase of 2.5% a year. They could, possibly, count on a 3.9% increase, but only if they agree to new rosters that will increase stress and workload.
There is much that we don't know about Stevens. But we do know a lot about millions of working families, who live in the suburbs of Australia's major cities, and who are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
These people drive to work because there's no public transport. They struggle to pay their mortgage and are increasingly in arrears. Every time that Stevens raises interest rates, these working families are forced to cut another "luxury" — such as childcare. Increasing numbers are being forced to sell up completely and join the ranks of those looking for scarce rental accommodation.
Bureaucrats like Stevens are the human face of neoliberalism today. They never go short, they never lose their homes. Yet, they are happy to instruct us not to ask for a wage rise or risk an interest rate hike.
It is small consolation that Stevens seems to have lost his bonus. Perhaps more interest rate rises are in the air?