Scott Morrison has blasted calls for politicians to take a $1000-per-day pay cut as ‘political clickbait’.
The Prime Minister, who is on a taxpayer-funded salary of $549,250, said a wage decrease ‘wouldn’t help anyone’.
The first parliamentary sitting fortnight in August was cancelled due to fears Victorian MPs could spread COVID-19 in Canberra.
South Australian Senator Rex Patrick called for politicians’ wages to be cut $1000 for every day they don’t attend parliament.
‘Parliamentary sitting days should be rescheduled, not cancelled. If we’re not sitting, we can’t carrying out critical Government oversight activities or deal with legislation. Dock MPs’ and Senators’ $1000 for every sitting day that is cancelled,’ he said.
‘Federal politicians should not be insulated from the impacts, especially when many MPs are not doing fundamental work they are rightfully expected to do; oversight of Government and reviewing and voting on legislation.’
The prime minister hit back at Mr Patrick’s remarks, saying ‘if he’s not working while the Parliament’s not sitting that’s a matter for him.’
‘I can tell you my government members are working as hard outside of the parliament as they do and I can certainly assure you that I am,’ Mr Morrison told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
‘I think that sort of stuff is just political clickbait for people to put their head above the parapet. It doesn’t help anybody, it doesn’t get us anywhere.’
Mr Patrick said that while medical advice needs to be followed, Mr Morrison’s decision to cancel rather than reschedule two scheduled sitting weeks in August is ‘highly disappointing’ and ‘sends the wrong signal to Australians.’
‘There were only 30 Senate sitting days left for 2020. The Prime Minister’s decision reduced those planned sittings by more than 20 per cent,’ he said in a statement.
‘Those August sitting days should not have been cancelled, but rather rescheduled to September, which has only three sitting days planned. There is a lot of work to be done.
‘Millions of Australians are facing huge financial difficulties as a consequence of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. All too many Australians have lost their jobs and many others are working reduced hours with significantly reduced pay.’
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in April announced she and other ministers would take a 20 per cent pay cut for six months to show solidarity with those affected by the pandemic.
Mr Morrison’s dismissal of a pay cut comes a day after he announced wage subsidies will be cut from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight for eligible full-time workers after September 27 and halved to $750 for those working less than 20 hours a week.
From January, JobKeeper will be further reduced to $1000 for full-time employees and $650 for part-time workers until March.
The coronavirus supplement for JobSeeker will also be extended but drop from $550 a week to $250 at the end of September, and remain at that rate until the end of the year.