It has been just two months since she gave birth to her first child, but Jacinda Ardern wasted no time getting back to business as the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and her latest decision to reject a pay rise – said to be worth $12,000 personally – has been widely welcomed.
Ardern, who returned to work just six weeks after giving birth to daughter Neve Te Aroha Ardern-Gayford, on June 21, released a statement this week confirming that all salaries and allowances for members of parliament have been frozen for a year.
Announcing the move on Monday, the 38-year-old PM confirmed her commitment to ensuring that pay is “fair” and “in keeping with the Government’s expectations and values”, as the Remuneration Authority works to develop a fairer formula for future pay rises.
“Today Cabinet agreed to freeze MP Pay till July 2019,” she said,”to reassess the funding formula used by the Authority to ensure it is fair and in keeping with this Government’s expectations and values. I have notified all party leaders of this decision.”
In line with recommendations from the Remuneration Authority, members of the New Zealand parliament were set to receive a pay increase of 3 per cent next month, backdated to July 1. This rise would have seen Ardern receive an extra $NZ14,131.47 ($AU12,810) per year on top of her current salary of $427,072, according to the ABC.
The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway said the Government needed to take action before the new pay rates were introduced: “Because of the timing of the annual increase process set in the Act, we need to use an urgent legislative process, aiming for introduction in September.
“This means we need to amend the Remuneration Authority Act 1977 to suspend new Determinations by the Remuneration Authority and restore the 2017 Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination until 30 June 2019.”
Ardern’s announcement came ahead of Australia’s leadership spill, which saw Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton challenge Malcolm Turnbull for the top job in an unexpected party room ballot on Tuesday morning. Dutton was defeated by 48 votes t0 35, and subsequently resigned from the frontbench.
However Aussie voters are now calling on the country’s top pollies to take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book saying Ardern is “exactly what Australia needs”.
“See this @TurnbullMalcolm? This is what a real PM does when the rest of country is not getting wage rises. They don’t give tax cut to big business & they certainly don’t accept a $10000 pay rise for themselves even if an independent tribunal grants it,” one user wrote on Twitter.
Another said: “PM Ardern is exactly what Australia needs. Strong decisive leadership with humility and empathy. Something for us to work towards.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that he had donated his entire parliamentary salary, worth $528,000, to charity. He was also recently named as the highest earning pollie of all 26 countries in the OECD.