Two MPs pledge their salary increase for drought charities

Member for Orange Philip Donato.
Member for Orange Philip Donato.

Despite a call out to other regional based members of Parliament to donate their salary increase to drought charities, just two politicians from western NSW have pledged to the cause.

Last month member for Orange Philip Donato’s announced he will donate his salary increase to support drought-relief charity Aussie Helpers.

Mr Donato put the call out for all regionally-based elected members of parliament to donate their own pay rise to a registered drought charity.

Read more:

Member for Calare Andrew Gee responded to Mr Donato, pledging his own increase to the cause.

NSW politicians were handed a 2.5 per cent pay rise – totaling $2466 after tax – as of July 1, as well as an increase in their travel and office entitlements.

The rise will boost an MP's base salary from $161,040 to $165,066 a year.

An enquiry from the Western Magazine asked other regionally based members of Parliament if they would be doing the same as Mr Donato and donating their pay rise to drought charities.

From those who responded, all said while they donate to charities they didn’t want to publicise their contributions.

Also making news:

The Western Magazine also asked what they are personally doing to assist drought affected farmers.

Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said he donates “in excess of 10 per cent of my salary to charity” and congratulated the Member for Orange for his donation.

“I don’t see the need to promote or publicise my contributions,” Mr Grant said.

“I am working with my cabinet colleagues to develop additional drought assistance measures in addition to those currently available across the $600m NSW funding to date.

“I’m taking examples relative to the opportunities local farmers are bringing to my attention to cabinet and expect additional announcements in the near future.”

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton also responded to the enquiry and said “ongoing drought conditions across NSW have prompted a number of charities increasing their work to donate hay, household items and other resources to drought-affected farmers.”

“This is worthwhile work and I am pleased to see cohesive farming communities uniting to support one another in the terribly dry times,” he said.

“Following recent prompts for State and Federal MPs to publicly acknowledge their donations to such charities, I would like to outline that my personal donations to charities and other worthy causes remain personal matters.”

Mr Coulton said while he is supportive of any donation that represents a helping hand for farmers, it is his personal belief that philanthropy does not have to be public to be effective.

“With this in mind, I will continue to work for the diverse communities across my electorate,” he said.

“I would like to remind farmers that the Federal Government continues to provide a range of drought support measures that are critical in building and maintaining resilient, strong farming operations, and support is readily available for those in need.

“I will continue to work closely with the Minister for Agriculture and Water to ensure government policy provides this support in times of hardship both now and into the future.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said while she respects Mr Donato’s offer to provide some financial support to farmers facing the challenges of drought, she didn’t feel it to be appropriate to publicise her personal donations.

...I would like to outline that my personal donations to charities and other worthy causes remain personal matters.

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton.

“While I donate to a number of local charities and believe our farmers are an exceptionally worthwhile cause, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to publicise my personal donations,” she said.

“I have been travelling the length and breadth of the electorate, where conditions are highly variable.

“What I see are proud and accomplished farmers who are using their skills and experience to deal with a situation which is in no way unfamiliar to them.”

Ms Cooke said the NSW Government is working hard to respond to the developing drought and provide the most effective forms of support, including the additional $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package.

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole for did not respond in time.