Brisbane councillors raking in eyewatering benefits
BRISBANE councillors have been receiving extraordinary superannuation benefits that are more than double what the average worker receives, costing ratepayers millions of dollars every council term.
The Sunday Mail can reveal an astonishing loophole that means Brisbane ratepayers cough up 20 per cent of the salary for a councillor or lord mayor to contribute to their superannuation fund every year. The Super Guarantee Contribution rate is 9.5 per cent.
The super payments set ratepayers back a whopping $959,000 last financial year, with the Lord Mayor entitled to $53,109 in super payments and the Deputy Mayor entitled to more than $40,000.
The standard annual super payment to a backbench councillor was more than $32,000, while the council's chairs were eligible to receive $40,234.
When approached by The Sunday Mail yesterday, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner - who has been receiving the super benefits since he was first elected in 2005 - announced a change to the council's super policy, which has cost ratepayers at least $3 million in the past four years. He said the independent tribunal that assesses the salaries of councillors will now also consider their superannuation payments when they next meet.
"I haven't given a lot of thought to the percentage of super that's involved with this job," Cr Schrinner said.
"It was in place long before I got here.
"Just because a policy has been in place for a long time doesn't mean it should be the same going forward.
"So what I am committing to is that the independent tribunal will now consider superannuation as well."
But the tribunal will not meet again until late 2022, and any new rulings will not come into effect until July 1, 2023.
The superannuation scheme was first introduced in 1995 and has not changed since, despite the Local Government Act mandating that every council outside of Brisbane limit the super it pays its councillors to the same rate it pays its standard permanent employees.
Cr Schrinner said he believed that was something the independent tribunal would consider.
BCC currently offers its employees up to 14 per cent super, but only if they contribute 5 per cent from their own salary.
"I'm sure most people would agree that politicians shouldn't get involved in setting their own pay and conditions," the Lord Mayor said yesterday.
On the Gold Coast, councillors receive a 12 per cent super contribution if they choose to make voluntary contributions, while councillors on the Sunshine Coast also receive 12 per cent super.
The super payments made to Brisbane councillors are even more than State MPs, who are entitled to a 12.75 per cent employer contribution when they make a 5 per cent contribution from their salary.
Griffith University political expert Dr Paul Williams said he believed ratepayers would be surprised with the hefty super payments for Brisbane councillors.
"This sort of anomaly certainly doesn't pass the pub test for voters," he said.