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Pay Rise For Military

Cabinet has agreed in principle to across-the-board pay increases for the military, Defence minister Mark Burton said today.

While the details have yet to be worked out, Mr Burton said the increase would be significant, particularly for the lower ranks.

He said he hoped to have new rates in place by the beginning of the next financial year.

Mr Burton denied the pay increases were about pay parity in East Timor, where New Zealand troops have reportedly been disgruntled at receiving comparatively less pay than their Australian colleagues. He said the pay needs to be fair in terms of the New Zealand economy and labour market. “This isn’t about East Timor,” he said.

However, Prime Minister Helen Clark said there was some mention of pay parity among New Zealand personnel in East Timor when she was there. She said pay rates for the military is a major issue and said while the high ranks haven’t done too badly, the base pay for lower ranks is not good.

Mr Burton said the extra cost would not come out of existing defence spending, so would have to be factored into the next budget round. He said he would have to work it through very carefully with Finance Minister Michael Cullen.

Mr Burton said part of the pay rise would be a ‘military factor’ allowance, compensating for special circumstances of military employment such as being constantly on call, and being unable to be represented by a union or participate in industrial relations.

Asked who decides what is fair, if the military receive no industrial representation, Mr Burton said it was ultimately up to Cabinet to decide what is fair and proper, under the Defence Minister’s guidance.

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