Christine Holgate was the highest paid civil servant in 2018/19. Picture: Julian Kingma
Christine Holgate was the highest paid civil servant in 2018/19. Picture: Julian Kingma

Aussie woman making $208k a month

Australia Post boss Christine Holgate has been revealed as the country's highest paid civil servant, earning more than $2.5 million in 2018/19.

Her wage was up from $1.646 million after being bolstered by $300,000 in extra bonuses and $224,500 in other long-term benefits, according to government documents reported by The Australian Financial Review.

The eye-watering figure does, however, pale in comparison to her predecessor Ahmed Fahour whose $6.8 million salary sparked widespread condemnation and led to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull admitting "that remuneration is too high".

ABC managing director David Anderson earned $1.4 million in the financial year from a base salary of $799,136 and long-service leave benefits of $265,933, while SBS boss James Taylor received total remuneration of $809,113.

The treasure trove of information also revealed 94 executives at the National Disability Insurance Agency were paid a combined $23 million with its minister Stuart Robert defending the wages, saying the organisation needed "an extraordinary group of executives", according to The Courier Mail.

The NDIA's previous CEO Robert De Luca, who was replaced yesterday by Martin Hoffman, had a base salary of $566,000, higher than the Prime Minister's $538,000.

 

Christine Holgate was the highest paid civil servant in 2018/19. Picture: Julian Kingma
Christine Holgate was the highest paid civil servant in 2018/19. Picture: Julian Kingma

 

The revelations come after the Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe last month blasted the extraordinary salaries of the country's CEOs following Qantas boss Alan Joyce pocketing a staggering $24 million last year.

Dr Lowe compared the absurd bonuses among the business community's elite with the stagnant wage growth of regular Australians, which he said should be raised by more than 3 per cent.

"As a regular Australian, it disturbs me," he said during a speech to the Armidale Chamber of Commerce.

"Some people who are paid extraordinarily high amounts of money and working Australians have relatively low wages and getting small wage increases, I think it's an issue for society."

The RBA boss, who manages a national balance sheet of $182 billion, received a total wage of $1.059 million in the financial year and said he rejected the chance of a performance-based salary structure.

He said CEOs shouldn't be rewarded with an incentive for doing their job.

"I've got a flat salary and I say to my board, 'Look, don't consider performance because you know I'm going to work as hard for you and for the people who show up regardless'. Actually, I think a lot of people are like that," the RBA boss said.

 

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is the highest paid CEO in Australia. Picture: David Swift.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is the highest paid CEO in Australia. Picture: David Swift.

 

"I don't need the incentives. My incentive is to do a good job for the people."

Alan Joyce's $23,876,351 wage was the most of any Australian CEO in the 2018 financial year, according to analysis from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).

Macquarie Group CEO Nicholas Moore came second with a $23.86 million pay packet, while Michael Clarke from Treasury Wine Estates made $19,024,334.

The median pay enjoyed by ASX 100 CEOs was $4.5 million - a far cry from the country's average full-time wage, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics places at $85,010.

The median bonus was $1.61 million, the second highest figure in the survey's 18-year history, while 10 CEOs took home more than $10m in FY18.

On Tuesday, Telstra chairman John Mullen launched an extraordinary defence of the millions of dollars paid to executives at the telco and other Australia companies, saying Instagram influencers and computer gamers pocket a similar amount.

Last year Telstra was one of many publicly listed companies to come under the spotlight of excessive bonuses paid to executives, with shareholders rejecting its remuneration report.

But the major telco avoided a second strike this week on payments despite chief executive Andy Penn pocketing $5 million for the year.

During the AGM, Mr Mullen vented his frustration at the backlash, saying he struggles to understand why the business community is singled out over the cash splash.

The chairman's comments come after a Melbourne teen won $4.6 million in August at a Dota 2 esports gaming event.

"Young kids can earn $US5 million now by playing Fortnite. And even influencers - you can earn millions of dollars just by wearing a nice jacket and standing in front of a landmark," Mr Mullen said.

"And yet when a business executive devotes a huge portion of their life - they work long, long hours, weekends, they miss family events - when they get to the top of their profession, it is somehow morally wrong that they get rewarded for it in an international global market."

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus slammed the defence of the pay, tweeting business executives "live in another world to us".

"Extreme wealth from obscene bonuses seems to make them totally blind to inequality and the lives of everyone else," she said.

Are salaries of civil servants and business executives in Australia too high? Comment below @James_P_Hall | or get in touch at james.hall1@news.com.au