By David Bates

Peter’s article about the perks enjoyed by our politicians was (as usual) bang on the money. While I wish Sussan Ley hadn’t charged me for her new year’s eve cocktails with Sarina Russo, there are bigger fish to fry.

Take the public sector for example.

While small business owners are working every hour God sends, paying payroll tax and income tax, making compulsory superannuation contributions and generally keeping the economy ticking along for the benefit of every Australian, some public servants appear to be enjoying the good life at our collective expense.

Take the head Statistician of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), David Kalisch, for example. He was the fellow ultimately responsible for last year’s (entirely predictable) Census fiasco. If he worked for a small business and performed that badly, he’d probably have been sacked without notice.

But luckily for David, he’s employed by the Australian Public Service, on a total annual remuneration package of ... (insert drumroll) … just over $700,000. Yes, you read that correctly - $700,000. In case you’re wondering, the Prime Minister currently receives just over $500,000.

Go figure.

Or how about the current head of the Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, who holds a tax-payer funded statutory appointment which expires next year. While the agency she leads publishes press release after press release confirming they have comprehensively failed their remit to explain Australia’s workplace relations laws to employers, she’s enjoying a total annual remuneration package of just over $400,000.

How many small business owners do you know that make that kind of money? Her generous package at least helps explain why she’s so out of touch with those who pay the taxes which pay her salary.

And while we’re on the subject of our tax dollars being wasted, let’s not forget the elephant in the room: we are incredibly over-governed. I never thought I’d say this, but Bob Hawke is 100% right: we need to abolish state governments.

Why on earth do taxpayers have to fund nine different education departments and nine different health departments, for example? If small businesses operated with as much duplication and waste as our state and federal governments, they’d be shuttered-up and closed-down within a matter of days.

So, Peter is right, let’s not waste time worrying about who paid for Sussan Ley’s hotel. Let’s instead start asking why our under-performing public servants and statutory office-holders are paid so much, and why we continue to fund obviously unnecessarily duplication in our state and territory governments.

After all, at least we can vote out the pollies.