Australian politicians strike it rich, with Julia Gillard now paid more than Obama


Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard chats with US President Barack Obama during a Meeting on Afghanistan on November 20, 2010 in Lisbon, as part of a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Summit of Heads of States and Government held on 19-20 November 2010.


Pierre-Philippe Marcou

Australia's "redhead in chief" Julia Gillard — official title Prime Minister — can walk tall among the great leaders of the world.

The spring in her step may even be a little more pronounced, knowing that she earns more than most — including her UK counterpart David Cameron, and now the US president himself.

A decision by the Australia's Remuneration Tribunal  to boost the pay of all Australian lawmakers will hand Gillard an extra $90,000 or so — increasing her salary to $470,000.

That's Australian dollars — at today's exchange rate, around $479,000 American.

Barack Obama is reportedly paid around $400,000 for his trouble — and arguably, he has plenty of it — according to a Huffington Post report from April. Cameron, meantime, reportedly earns about $221,000.

Back in Australia, the base salary for other politicians — even the most junior parliamentarian — will jump from $140,000 to at least $180,000, the Courier-Mail was reporting Thursday. 

But the pollies aren't getting it all their own way.

According to Australia's Daily Telegraph, the lawmakers will "lose two major entitlements that have been open to widespread abuse and public criticism — the lifetime gold pass and overseas study allowances." 

The so-called gold pass entitles lawmakers who have served six years or more in the parliament 25 business class return trips a year for themselves and their spouses. Former prime ministers can take 40 trips.

The "overseas study allowance," meantime, allows lawmakers to travel first class around the world to study wine regions, fashion houses ... and perhaps the odd subject of benefit to the Australian taxpayer.

However, local media are suggesting that the government could face a public backlash over the pay rises, particularly so soon after a series of budget cuts that affect programs of actual social worth to a small, highly taxed population — like the "Baby Bonus."