The incoming Greens MP in the federal seat of Brisbane will be quadrupling his salary and has only been to Parliament House in Canberra once.
Life is about to change drastically for 29-year-old Stephen Bates, but he still has to work three more shifts in his retail job this week before he can focus on his new parliamentary role.
“I still have to pay my rent,” he laughed.
“It’s going to be a very weird feeling”.
Mr Bates resigned today from his sales job at Chermside and says he is still coming to grips with his victory over LNP member Trevor Evans, who is a former chief of the National Retail Association.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet, to be honest. It still hasn’t sunk in.”
Pay for new MP is ‘insane’
It means a dramatic pay rise — the base salary of a federal MP is just over $211,000.
“It’s insane,” Mr Bates said.
“I’ll be quadrupling what my salary is at the moment.
“I, personally, think politicians get paid way too much money.
“That’s an indictment of our system that we create this political class that can be so out of touch with what the rest of the country experiences.”
Mr Bates says he has only been to Parliament House in Canberra once before.
“Once, like five years ago, for about an hour,” he said.
“I was actually down in Canberra for a job interview and before I flew home I just went and stood out the front of it, took a photo and left.”
In a historic result, Queensland is sending three Greens MPs to Canberra: Stephen Bates in the seat of Brisbane, Max Chandler-Mather in Griffith and Elizabeth Watson-Brown in Ryan.
The party is also on track to pick up an extra Queensland Senate spot.
They have nominated climate change policy and housing affordability among their priorities.
Mr Bates says he was motivated to get into politics after working at Disney World in the United States and finding a colleague on the floor crying because she had to choose between buying insulin and paying the rent.
“That was such a light bulb moment for me,” he said.
“We were earning $US7.50 an hour, the US minimum wage, while this company we worked for was making literally hundreds of billions of dollars in profit.”
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