Alan Jones is not, it seems safe to say, Mr. Popularity inside the Canberra Bubble.
Not that he ever was: the public service (which is almost half of the entire population of Canberra) is notoriously left-leaning, so the right-wing radio firebrand nicknamed “The Parrot” is guaranteed to send the taxpayer-funded luvvies into conniptions at the best of times.
But now he’s calling time on their publicly-funded Life of Riley.
Calls for public servants to take a pay cut during the economic crisis caused by coronavirus are not helpful, and defended salaries as a small part of federal spending, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
As already reported on the BFD, politicians and public servants are doing everything they can to make damned sure that they’re completely insulated from the consequences of their own decisions. As millions of Australians are being thrown out of work or their businesses shut down and sent to the wall, the troughers are refusing to share the pain.
“Look the percentage of total salaries of the budget is actually at the federal government very, very small,” Mr Morrison said.
Pay cuts weren’t ruled out, but Mr Morrison said it wasn’t a priority for the government.
“We’ll look at those things if that’s necessary. But honestly, it’s not something that I’m focused on.”
Of course not. Although, it’s also easy for retired politicians with guaranteed generous superannuation entitlements to pontificate.
Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman had been calling for all public servants paid more than $100,000 a year to take a pay cut of 10 per cent, believing it was unfair that the public sector was protected from the pain being felt elsewhere in the economy.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News that politicians and senior public servants wouldn’t have their pay increased in the current context.
Still, while it’s true that, on the whole, public service wages are a small segment of the budget, “optics” count for a lot. When ordinary Australian employees and business owners are facing unprecedented financial strain, the knowledge that the publicly-funded elite are zealously guarding their privileges is a bitter pill to swallow.
When the Queen Mother refused to leave Buckingham Palace during the Blitz it made little practical difference to the war effort – but it sent an important message: everyone had to be prepared to take a hit. Morale is not as easy to define as bullets or budget dollars, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make an enormous difference to how societies pull through crises.
Australians might be more inclined to suffer through these lockdowns if they could see that the elite in Versailles-in-the-Brindabellas are sharing their pain, even just a little.
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