WA's backbench MPs will get pay rises more than one-third bigger than those given to police and other public servants by the State Government.
Handing down its annual determination of salaries for politicians, senior bureaucrats and judges last night, the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal said it had approved a flat $5585 increase to MPs' pay.
The tribunal's determination takes effect from July 1 and amounts to a 1.6 per cent rise for Colin Barnett, taking his salary to about $350,000. For backbenchers, it equates to a 3.8 per cent rise.
The rise for backbenchers, which takes their base salary to $154,223, is 38 per cent higher than the rise given to police and firefighters as part of deals recently thrashed out with the Government.
The deals, which were struck according to the Government's belt-tightening public sector wages policy aimed at tying pay rises to inflation, gave police and firefighters 2.75 per cent next financial year. They will get rises of 2.5 per cent in each of the following two years. Under the SAT's changes, senior public servants will also get a flat increase of $5474, amounting to between 1.1 per cent and 3 per cent.
Council chief executives will receive an extra 3 per cent, while WA's judiciary will get 2.5 per cent more.
Explaining its decision, the tribunal said it considered a range of economic factors but ultimately thought changes to the rate of inflation should be reflected.
It also noted it had made no adjustments for MP allowances pending a review that was due to be completed later this year.
The Premier said that "the determinations of SAT were independent of Government and are made outside of Government's wages policy".
Mr Barnett also said the increase to politicians' pay would amount to only 3 per cent for most backbenchers once their loadings were taken into account.
UnionsWA secretary Meredith Hammat said: "So while politicians get access to an independent tribunal to set their wages, the Barnett Government has changed the law to deny the independent setting of public sector wages."
Police Union president George Tilbury said the same rules should apply to politicians as applied to the union's members.
"It's disappointing, albeit the decision was made by an independent body," he said.
Kevin Jolly, the secretary of the United Firefighters Union of Australia's WA branch, said the increase to backbenchers' pay was jarring given the tight fiscal circumstances.
Community and Public Sector Union secretary Toni Walkington said the Government should revise its recent offer to public servants in light of the decision.