CHART: Australia's Senior Public Servants Are Among The Best Paid In The World

Getty/ Paula Bronstein

Australia’s senior public servants are paid top dollar compared to their colleagues in other developed countries, according to analysis by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

On two measures — adjusted dollars and how they compare to other graduates — Australian senior public servants are only behind New Zealand and Italy when it comes to a pay packet.

Comparing Gross Domestic Product per capita, the Australian senior public servant are well ahead of the OECD average but behind the UK, Chile, New Zealand and Italy.

The adjusted dollar value compares annual compensation in USD adjusted for purchasing power parity, a statistical technique used to compare the cost of living in different countries.

And the senior managers are doing well under this measure. They’re getting an adjusted $382,000 a year compared to the OECD average of $231,000.

And when compared to the salaries of other tertiary educated people, the senior managers are getting 4.9 times as much pay. Compare this to the OECD average where senior public servants get 3.4 times the pay of the average graduate.

The OECD’s Matthias Rumpf says few issues are more likely to provoke a row than the pay of public servants.

Are they overpaid and underworked or selfless heroes who could be earning more in the private sector?

“We can’t settle that debate here, but, using data from Government at a Glance 2013, we can at least give you some sense of how public sector pay compares across some OECD countries,” says Rumpf, a communications expert at the OECD.

Federal department heads last month got a pay rise of more than 5%.

This brought annual pay of Australia’s mostly highly paid public servant, Ian Watt, the secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to $844,000.

The rest of Australia hasn’t been as lucky.

In June, the national minimum wage rose 3% to $640.90 a week or $33,326.8 a year.

And the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Wage Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 2.6% in the year to the end of March.

Average weekly earnings crept up by 3.1% last year to $1,498.70, or almost $78,000 a year.

All well below the pay and rises experienced by senior public servants.

The situation isn’t quite as good for those Australians stuck in middle management in the pubic service.

On two measures, the lower middle managers are just behind the OECD average and just ahead on adjusted income of $121,000 a year, about one-third of what their senior manager colleagues get.

Check out how Australia compares using the interactive chart below:

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