Politicians' pay freeze plan a stunt, say seniors

Treasurer Joe Hockey after a television interview on Sunday. Picture: ANDREW MEARES

Treasurer Joe Hockey after a television interview on Sunday. Picture: ANDREW MEARES

A pay freeze for federal politicians is a stunt say seniors, who face increased healthcare costs and pension changes in the federal budget.

Treasurer Joe Hockey on Sunday confirmed the government would seek to freeze the salaries of federal politicians and senior public servants for a year in the budget.

The measure could cost the prime minister, who earns an annual salary of $500,000, an estimated $10,000, while the average backbencher would miss out on an estimated $3900.

‘‘We’ve got to send a very clear message to the electorate that whatever we are asking the electorate to contribute to the budget repair task, we are going to contribute ourselves as well,’’ Mr Hockey told the Nine Network on Sunday.

But the measure was rejected as a stunt by National Seniors Australia, who said it showed politicians were increasingly out of touch with those struggling on a fixed income.

Seniors are facing the introduction of a GP co-payment and higher costs for subsidised medicines in the budget, as well as possible changes to the indexation of pensions.

‘‘They’ll (seniors) be quite cynical about it - I think they can see through stunts of this kind,’’ National Seniors chief Michael O’Neill told said.

‘‘I don’t think this measure will increase in any way politicians awareness of the struggles that people face.’’

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was ‘‘up for a politicians pay freeze’’.

But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the move wouldn’t appease voter anger over what is shaping as a tough budget.

‘‘If he thinks that freezing his salary is going to make Australians feel better about pension cuts, tax rises and other changes, I think he’s kidding himself,’’ he told ABC TV.

Liberal frontbencher Scott Morrison said the move would have the support of Mr Abbott’s coalition colleagues.

The prime minister has written to the Independent Remuneration Tribunal seeking the pay freeze.

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