Fear stymies pay rise calls

Hamish Heard
Geelong councillors want more pay but are too scared to ask.
Victorian Local Governance Association is surveying councillors on their remuneration as part of a statewide campaign to boost councillor allowances.
According to the organisation, councillor workloads have doubled since municipal amalgamations in the 1990s.
Most councillors who spoke to the Independent complained they were overworked and underpaid but none would go on the record asking for more cash.
Cr Stretch Kontelj said he was happy with his $18,000 but said councillors representing larger wards were hopelessly underpaid.
“If you look at councillors whose wards take in rural areas, like Tony Ansett and Tom O’Connor, their wards are as big as some state electorates and they’re putting in fulltime hours,” he said.
Cr Kontelj called for differentiation in councillor allowances based on ward size and workload.
Lara councillor Tony Ansett said his council duties regularly required more than 50 hours work a week, forcing him to sacrifice other employment.
“I think people would be shocked to learn my total income is less than $20,000 a year,” he said.
But he shied away from calling for more money.
“If I said that I’d get killed.”
Cr O’Connor also reported devoting more hours to council than he would an average fulltime job.
“It’s a challenge reconciling the hours we put with the amount we’re receiving,” Cr O’Connor said.
“The community has expectations about the quality of representation they receive and it’s important councils can attract the quality of councillors who can provide it.”