Chief executives are taking home their highest pay packets in 17 years, while some age pensioners are struggling to survive with just a minor increase to their fortnightly payments.
According to the latest CEO pay report from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), bosses are being paid more than they were before the global financial crisis due to “persistent and increasing bonus payments”.
The report found bosses are now more likely to lose their job than their bonus, as all but six of the 80 CEOs eligible for a bonus received one, compared with 10 people who left their roles last year. Meanwhile, bonus payments are up by more than 18 per cent.
Median realised pay for an ASX100 CEO rose by 12.4 per cent to $4.36 million, while ASX101-200 CEOs didn’t miss out either as theirs was up 22.1 per cent to $1.76 million.
The startling report comes just months after age pensioners received a very modest increase to their own payments. While singles on the pension saw an increase of $13.20 to $907.60 per fortnight, each member of a couple got an increase of $9.90 – taking their payments up to $684.10.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed the CEO payments report, and told 3AW radio: “That seems a hell of a lot – they’d have to be very productive.”
He added: “As someone who most of his life has worked in businesses that I’ve owned or been a partner in, I find the amount, the pay rates for people working for a lot of big public-listed companies extraordinarily high.”
The results come after the banking royal commission revealed unethical and possible criminal activity in some parts of the banking and insurance sectors.
ACSI CEO Louise Davidson described the pay packets as “tone deaf”, and added: “At a time when public trust in business is at a low ebb and wages growth is weak, board decisions to pay large bonuses just for hitting budget targets rather than exceptional performance, are especially tone-deaf.
“This may be a sign that boards have lost sight of the link between a company’s social licence and the expectations of communities and investors.”
She admitted that if the issue of rising CEO bonuses in particular isn’t addressed, they may need “legislative intervention to give shareholders a greater say”.
Domino’s Pizza boss Don Meij was the highest paid chief executive last year, up from third place in 2016, as it was revealed he’s taking home $36.8m.
Meanwhile, with such a small increase in age pension payments in March, some people are struggling to balance their finances and get by on a day-to-day basis.
One Starts at 60 contributor previously described life on the pension as “depressing”, and revealed: “I haven’t had a holiday in more than 30 years! I, like so many others getting by on the age pension, cannot afford it!”
Payment rates for pensions and allowances are adjusted twice a year. While the latest saw small increases for singles and couples, around 4.7 million pension and allowance recipients saw a small increase to their welfare payments too.
Anyone on Newstart, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance or Sickness Allowance was awarded an increase of $7.00 a fortnight to $554.60, while members of a couple saw payments go up by $6.30 a fortnight to $503.40.