‘Big guilt factor’: Councillors reject 100pc pay hike
IN AN EXTRAORDINARY move, a guilt-ridden western Queensland local councillor has rejected his 100 per cent pay rise and admitted he wouldn't have worked harder despite the whopping raise.
Councillor Don Rayment, from the sprawling Diamantina Shire in the state's far west, and his colleague Steve Cramer have sent formal letters to the council recording their opposition to their huge pay hikes, announcing the extra money will go to charity.
"I am not driven by greed or money, and doubling the councillors' remunerations will not make me work any harder but will burden me with a big guilt factor,'' Cr Rayment wrote in a letter to council dated April 23.
"The work I do, both voluntarily and in my role as a councillor, is because I want to help make this shire a better place to live.
"I physically cannot work any harder, so a substantial increase in remuneration is not going to make me a more productive councillor.''
Diamantina Shire Council, which incorporates the historic town of Birdsville, voted to accept pay rises on April 20, increasing annual salaries from $26,000 to $54,000 for councillors and $87,000 to $108.000 for newly elected mayor Robbie Dare.
The five-person council, which serves a population of fewer than 300, about half of whom are ratepayers, followed accepted procedure and rubber-stamped the salaries, which are released annually in the independent Local Government Remuneration Commission Report.
But under former mayor Geoff Morton, council had rejected the increases, which followed a reclassification of the council from category three to category one.
The Morton-led council told the Remuneration Commission several years ago to keep salaries well below the recommendation.
Councillors and Morton argued against their own pay rises saying they didn't have a great deal to do in a sparsely populated shire in which their own ratepayers were struggling financially under drought conditions.
Cr Cramer, in his letter dated April 24, said he believed the new council's decision to accept the pay rise was unethical in light of the financial conditions brought on by the coronavirus.
"It is my personal view, now more than ever with the current economic climate, that this decision is unethical and I cannot accept the pay rise on principal,'' Cr Cramer wrote.
"I nominated for this position in the council as I believed the responsibility of the role was to try to serve and help the community, not for financial gain.''
Cr Cramer and Cr Rayment can't direct the Remuneration Commission to cut their pay without getting a majority vote in the five man council which includes Doug Coombs, Francis Murray and Mayor Robbie Dare.
"I will commit to donating the amount of the remuneration increase to charitable causes until another more reasonable remuneration motion is passed,'' Cr Cramer wrote.
"These donations will go to MS research Australia.''
Cr Rayment indicated he would donate to Western Breast and Prostate Cancer and the early Childhood Cancer support group in Brisbane.
Cr Dare, who runs the Bedourie roadhouse, has not returned calls.
Originally published as 'Big guilt factor': Councillors reject 100pc pay hike