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Colin Barnett has flagged a plan to have salaries of the executives of government-owned businesses such as Synergy and the Water Corporation independently determined by the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal.

The Premier told Parliament he wanted the SAT to recommend a salary band, with company boards to set precise executive remuneration packages within that band.

Mr Barnett flagged his intentions amid attacks in question time from shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt, who asked why he had approved big pay rises for the bosses of electricity companies Verve Energy, Western Power and Horizon.

Verve chief Shirley In't Veld was awarded a $75,000 pay rise last financial year, boosting her total package, including superannuation, to more than $550,000 a year. Horizon chief Rod Hayes' base pay rose $17,985 but the superannuation, bonus and living allowance components fell, leaving his total package at $583,000. Western Power managing director Doug Aberle's incentive package rose modestly from $551,000 to $558,000.

Mr Barnett blamed the pay rises on employment contracts signed by the former Labor government.