Mat Nott
Mat Nott

Editor: councillors deserve cash

COUNCILLORS have awarded themselves up to $500 a year for out-of-pocket expenses incurred while representing council.

The mayor gets $3000 under the same policy change. Slush fund, some will cry, and at a time when 30 people's jobs at Wide Bay Water look set to disappear on the vote of these same councillors.

There is a certainly an endearing innocence about the timing of this announcement.

It leads you to conclude that there are good hearts operating in council, ones untroubled by worries that some people might get narky over these little sweeteners when the security of many families hangs in the balance.

The reality is the allowance should be more than has been allocated. The councillors' petrol allowances needs to double as well. It stands at about 50 cents a kilometre at the moment.

It is all about access to the people who are making some fundamental decisions about what goes on in the region.

A more cynical and spin-driven council might have deferred this decision until after the WBW pain is over.

On one view, it is perhaps refreshing that it was not scheduled for more tranquil times as it goes to a certain rough honesty.

As a ballpark base salary, a councillor gets about $75,000. It is a decent salary when compared with the average take-home wage on the Fraser Coast.

Break it down into an hourly rate though and the gravy train theory starts to lose a bit of steam.

Start siphoning off the cost of events a councillor attends on behalf of council and the wage no longer reflects the responsibility.

For example, three councillors attended a midweek meeting of the Burrum chamber of commerce. The cost per head was $30 plus petrol to and from.

The meal was as country as the evening but the councillors were there in official capacities and the event didn't end until after 10pm.

If there are those who think the events allowance a bit rich, why don't organisations and businesses who wish to invite councillors pledge to provide free tickets.

That way, those who want access pay, and those who don't won't.

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