A note to the country, media and Opposition: Remember last year in the 2012/2013 budget when the government got caught trying to give a $6,000 raise to their Ministers of State (bringing their new salary to $66,000), and when asked about it by the press (because they didn’t expect to be found out), they said it was just a “clerical error” that would be corrected in that budget?
Well in the new budget tabled Wednesday, the Expenditure details shows that the $6,000 raise was granted, because the new budget is listing the salary paid to State Ministers for the 2012/2013 fiscal year as $66,000. The new budget says that for 2013/2014, they will go back to paying them the salary of $60,000. Based on the budget tabled Wednesday, the law was broken by the government last year, because the salary of MPs, Senators and Ministers cannot be legally altered/raised without a resolution being tabled in parliament that is passed by the parliament. No such Resolution was brought, and indeed the government claimed it was just a “mistake” anyway in every single Ministry that had State Ministers, and that it never planned to raise anything.
For the benefit of the public, the salaries of Ministers have been the same for decades, therefore there would not be a reason for officials in the Ministry of Finance to do anything different with the figure in that line item in the 2012/2013 budget unless they were given instructions to do so by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Christie). The “clerical error” lie was an unfair thing done to public officers by the government, because officials in Finance are competent public officers who have worked on countless budgets. The government made the public think that such a thing was easy to get wrong – and that was a lie.
It was a lie they figured would slide because the public does not know the process of budget preparation, and the media did not inquire further to shed light on that process. The story the government gave was that it was just a “clerical error” last year. Well if that were so, officials in the Ministry of Finance would not again repeat the same “clerical error” this year when posting what was paid out last year. If $66,000 was not paid out last year, this new budget should not say it was paid out last year – but it does.
Based on the 2013/2014 budget, the money was paid out, and that would have been an illegal raise. Now let the government tell you all some foolishness about a clerical error again. If people are stupid enough to believe that for a second consecutive fiscal year the government messed up the budget again on something as critical as a salary line item for Cabinet Ministers, then that would mean the government is telling the country and the world not to trust the budget numbers it is presenting to them.
Broke the law or budget numbers are not to be trusted – those are the only two options in this matter.