Finance Finance News Here’s what big-hitting public service chiefs are pocketing. You’ll be amazed

Here’s what big-hitting public service chiefs are pocketing. You’ll be amazed

Martin Parkinson.
Australia's highest paid public servant Martin Parkinson checks into the office from the cricket. Photo: AAP
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While Australian workers have been struggling to get pay rises or find enough work in recent times, numerous public service big wigs are making close to $1 million.

We are used to reading about the massive salaries paid to fat cats in banking and industry but we don’t hear so much about the public sector.  But at the top end of the bureaucracy they are raking in big dough.

These men are earning the biggest payments from the public purse for running government organisations rather than the bureaucracy itself. The Prime Minister is there for a point of comparison.

Note the biggest salary among this group is being drawn by Wayne Byres, who heads the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

This week APRA was found to be lacking in leadership by a review penned for the government by former ACCC chief Graeme Samuel. Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick called for Mr Byres and his deputies to stand down from his $866,740 position as a result.

Close behind Mr Byres comes Defence Force chief General Angus Campbell who is pulling in $864,580 while the man who oversees tax collection, Chris Jordan, earns a handy $820,240.

Those figures include generous superannuation payments but the costs to the taxpayer include travel and relocation expenses not expressed in their salaries.

If you want to see a more comprehensive list of who earns what this official table above gives more detail. If you want to put names to the roles a quick google search will help out.

Their portly salaries have been boosted by 2 per cent annually for the last two years, a figure less than the growth in the average wage but still keeping them comfortably above the inflation rate of 1.3 per cent.

What the mandarins make

The table below details the pay of another cohort of highly paid public sector workers, the mandarins who head the government departments themselves. They are also living high on the government payroll.

This pay table details many departmental leaders but leaves out the most powerful of the mandarins. One is Treasury Secretary Philip Gaetjens, who earns a handy $892,00 per annum.

The other is the top bureaucrat, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Martin Parkinson. He is the highest paid public servant taking home $914,000 from the public purse a year.

Are they worth it?

The question on people’s minds is whether our public servants are worth the big bucks. Some international comparisons show them doing extremely well with the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin being paid around $US210,000 or $A304,000. And that’s for managing an economy about 15 times the size of ours.

A highly placed human resources executive who cannot be named because he operates in the public service sphere said, “I really do believe some of these guys are overpaid. They earn less than some in the private sector but they are running a department, not a business.”

“If they ran a business they would be dealing with much more risk and also they would need commercial skills,” the HR executive said. While these senior public servants earn more than PM Scott Morrison “there are other non-financial benefits of being prime minister,” he said.

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