Taxpayers To Save $7m A Year From Crossbench Staff CutsTaxpayers To Save $7m A Year From Crossbench Staff Cuts
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Taxpayers to save $7m a year from crossbench staff cuts

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Taxpayers to save $7m a year from crossbench staff cuts

Slashing the number of staffers allocated to crossbenchers

stands to save taxpayers as much as $22 million over the life of the parliament, as teal independents plot to personally persuade Anthony Albanese to restore some of their advisers.

Without cuts to their staffing entitlements, crossbenchers collectively would have ended up with almost three-quarters of staff numbers that the opposition is allocated for its frontbench.

Mr Albanese angered crossbenchers, including senators who he needs to court to support Labor legislation, after telling them last week the number of personal advisers they could employ would be reduced from four to one.

The personal staff duties include advising MPs and senators on legislation, drafting private member’s bills, speechwriting and media. There was no cut to the entitlement of four electorate officers each MP and senator irrespective of party affiliation is able to employ to help with constituent matters.

The Greens are treated separately to other crossbenchers because they enjoy party status. Their staffing numbers have not been cut but have not been increased despite the minor party electing six more MPs and senators.

The government argues it is restoring the number of advisers for the crossbench, as a savings measure, to what it was before Malcolm Turnbull and then Scott Morrison increased them. Ministers say Labor’s staffing bill will be $1.5 million less than what was spent under the former Coalition government.

The huge swell in independent MPs, led by the teal movement, would have increased the number of advisers and their taxpayer-funded salaries.

If there had been no changes, the 18 non-Green crossbenchers in the House of Representatives and Senate would have been entitled to 72 personal staff – equivalent to 71 per cent of the 102 personal staff allocated to the Coalition.

However, that 102 staff are meant to be shared across the offices of Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and the 30 shadow ministers. The crossbench would have shared its staff across 18 offices, which 58 per cent of the size of the Coalition’s frontbench.

Independents Helen Haines, Rebekha Sharkie and Bob Katter will be given two advisers because they represent larger rural electorates.

An adviser is paid up to $140,000 a year, while an assistant adviser earns about $120,000 a year, according to one crossbencher. They are also entitled to an allowance worth $30,000.

The MPs will be able to employ a senior adviser, who can be paid a higher salary of $161,000 plus a $33,000 allowance.

An analysis of those numbers byThe Australian Financial Reviewshows taxpayers can expect to save about $7.4 million a year in staffing costs. This figure does not include travel savings from having fewer people travel to Canberra for sittings.

The fight over MPs staff comes as new MPs began two days of orientation at Parliament House.

Kylea Tink, elected as part of the teal wave in North Sydney, said she hoped Mr Albanese would reconsider.

“One of the things to note really at this stage all we have received is a letter from the prime minister proposing that our staff numbers be reduced,” she said.

“I think we’re all very hopeful of meeting with the prime minister when he returns and actually having a constructive conversation around what resources we will need to do the job we’ve been asked to do by our community.”

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