The West

Barnett splashes cash to staff
Golden girl: Media adviser Dixie Marshall topped the political pay rises.

The Barnett Government has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars of post-election pay rises to its political staffers.

The pay rises - between $15,000 and $84,000 - come despite the Government urging the public service to cut programs because of Budget woes and above-inflation slugs to household fees and charges.

Public servants covered by the general public sector got automatic 4.25 per cent pay rises from April 12 under their enterprise bargaining agreement.

But the increases have flowed from deliberate decisions by the Government to bump up political staffers' pay by giving them higher salary classifications.

Salary costs for the Government's 218 staffers working in the office of Premier Colin Barnett and 16 ministers have grown $578,916 compared with before the election.

Nearly half of that has been snaffled by 10 senior people, including ministerial chiefs of staff, Mr Barnett's director of government strategy Narelle Cant and director of government media Dixie Marshall.

Ms Marshall's 52 per cent pay rise is the biggest by percentage and dollar value.

Her salary has jumped $84,534 to $245,000 since the previous report on ministerial resourcing was tabled in Parliament on October 25.

Ms Cant, one of Mr Barnett's longest serving and most trusted advisers, saw her salary jump $52,963 to $213,429.

In addition to pay rises for eight existing ministerial chiefs of staff, eight newly-employed chiefs of staff have been hired on higher wages than prevailed in the last term of government.

In October, most chiefs of staff were paid at level CL1, then worth $152,337 a year. Now no chief of staff is paid less than CL2, worth $167,286 and many are on CL3, worth $175,750.

Only one chief of staff, Gary Hamley of Police Minister Liza Harvey's office, retains the same pay scale.

Mr Barnett defended the pay rises, adding that total ministerial staffing was 218 compared with 246 under Alan Carpenter's Labor government.

"There are significant challenges in being able to attract and retain good and appropriately skilled people in a competitive labour market where the private sector salaries had moved ahead of the public sector," he said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said: "No one would begrudge a small pay rise for people across the public sector, including ministerial staff, but these massive pay rises will outrage many West Australians."

The West Australian

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