Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull personally intervened using a special parliamentary act to give 30 political staffers a 30% pay rise, adding an additional $840,000 to the taxpayer-funded wages bill, according to The The Herald Sun.
The increase comes at a time when wages growth for most Australian workers sits at record lows, but the prime minister has defended the decision, which saw the staffers break through a mandated salary cap of $259,000, topping up their pay with an average $28,000 in extra remuneration.
“There are a number of people who have come from senior positions in the public service into, in effect, seconded into political offices as advisers,” Malcolm Turnbull said.
“It is a longstanding practice and precedent and it is a good thing to do and when they come across, they come across naturally at their public service salary. So that is the explanation for that.”
Some of staffers are reportedly paid more than the PM in recognition of their previous pay levels as senior public servants.
Defending the move, a government spokesperson said former Labor PM Julia Gillard had 38 staffers paid more than the maximum rate and that the latest pay increases included opposition and crossbench staff, as well as staff for former PMs.
The increases come at a time with wage rises for public servants are at an historic low of 2%, while wages growth from enterprise agreements in the private sector in the September quarter fell to a 25-year low of 2.4%, down from 3.4% in the same quarter the previous year.
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