Why price is not indicative of quality

June 1, 2018
Malcom Turnbull biding his time until he can get back home to swim in his money bin.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is the highest-paid leader in the entire Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to a recent report.

Analysis by market research group IG also showed Turnbull earns up to 10 times the average Australian wage — the second-highest disparity with the majority of ordinary workers among OECD countries.

Turnbull even has a higher annual salary than the president of the richest country in the world, US President Donald Trump. Turnbull receives a tidy $530,000, compared to Trump on a measly $400,000. By comparison, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gets $340,000, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pulls in a lowly $270,000.

You have to ask yourself, are we getting value for money? Do we indeed have the best political leader in the world? Or do we have the most hypocritical and opportunist leader on the planet?

Turnbull, who once supported real action on climate change, now blocks the most minimal incentives on renewable energy and does the bidding of the coal and fossil fuel industry at every turn.

Turnbull, once the president of the Australian Republican Movement, fawns over the Queen, and has ruled out holding a national plebiscite on the future of the monarchy any time soon.

Turnbull, who is widely described as the leader of the "moderate" faction of the Liberal Party, has pursued policies of the most reactionary kind, on tax policy, unions, cuts to the public sector, the environment, and foreign policy.

Turnbull's base pay rose to about $530,000 after the Independent Remuneration Tribunal (IRT) ordered a 2% pay rise for all federal politicians last year, resulting in a $10,000 raise for the PM. Federal Cabinet ministers now earn $350,000 a year, while Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten receives $376,000.

This latest revelation follows the controversy earlier this year when Turnbull unilaterally gave a huge pay rise to his leading political advisers, provoking strong criticism from the Opposition and the union movement. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said on January 16 that it is everyday Australians who need a pay rise, not the PM's top political staffers.

Then-ACTU President Ged Kearney said: "News today that the Turnbull government has used a special legal power to pay 30 political staffers above the top pay rate of $259,000 shows how out-of-touch the government is with everyday working Australians. The prime minister's top executives are getting this special treatment, but the government has imposed pay freezes and real wage cuts on average public sector workers.

"Under the Turnbull government, work is getting more insecure, wages are stagnating and we're in a housing affordability crisis, all while big business profits go up.

"The richest 1% of Australians own more wealth than the bottom 70% of Australians, but the Turnbull government is doing all it can to make this inequality worse with pay rises for executives, tax cuts for big business, cutting penalty rates, cutting secure public sector jobs and attacking workers' unions."

Meanwhile, the 200 members of the 2018 Australian Financial Review Rich List added 21.2% to their personal fortunes last year with a collective total of $283 billion in wealth for this elite club. The list named 16 newly minted billionaires, bringing the number of billionaires on the list to 76.

At the same time, the chief executives of the ASX 100, the top 100 performing companies on the Australian Stock Exchange, receive an average of $4.75 million annually, up to 60 times the median full-time salary of $80,000 a year.

An ever-increasing number of people are living on or below the poverty line, yet $49.6 billion was added to the coffers of Australia's richest people last year alone. The wealth gap is widening.

More than 76% of pensioners feel the cost of living is rising faster than the official inflation rate. About 24% find it difficult to fund everyday expenses, while the government refuses to raise the Newstart Allowance for the unemployed in real terms.

That Turnbull is the highest paid political leader in the OECD, that his political staffers get huge pay rises while ordinary public servants have a wage freeze, that billionaires are multiplying like rabbits and that the average salary of CEOs is close to $5 million a year, underlines the obscene (and growing) inequality of wealth in Australia.

Meanwhile, the Turnbull government wants to give huge tax cuts to the big corporations, compared to pitiful tax reductions to low and middle income workers. This emphasises the open class war being fought by Turnbull and his Coalition government on behalf of their big business masters.

Green Left Weekly consistently seeks to publicise the truth about this class war to the widest possible audience. You can help us get out the facts of the growing inequality of Australian society and the need to build a broad fight against this class system by taking out a subscription to Green Left for yourself or a friend.

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