While payment to politicians seems part of the natural order today, there is nothing natural about it.
It was much discussed and argued over in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
At a time when politicians were gentlemen, they didn't need payment and going into politics was seen as a public service.
No payment was expected or given, except for ministers, who had to work full time.
Even Premiers weren't paid. Premier Jack Evans (1904-09) received an allowance for expenses, but had a full-time job as well.
Some people said it was necessary to pay politicians, in order that good people of limited means were able to stand.
The Mercury disagreed, warning we'd be fertilising many weeds before we raised a rare political flower.
There was big debate in the Tasmanian parliament in 1872 about whether politicians should even be given an allowance for expenses such as postage, travel and accommodation.
One argument against any payment was that if it were given, "honourable members would be very unwilling to give up their seats!"
At this time, Victoria was conducting a three-year trial of paying pollies. Their study found no benefit to the public. The USA found the same.
An earlier Premier, Tom Chapman, believed it would be immoral for MPs to pass a law to take money from their constituents to give to themselves.
If payment was allowed, he said, let each electorate pay the salary. Then they'd be sure to send good people to represent them and monitor their performance.
By 1893 members of the House of Assembly were receiving an expense allowance of £100 a year - about $20,000 in today's money. At that time the state was in a depression similar to today and Premier Dobson asked members to give up this perk.
"The time has come," he said, "when Tasmania should announce to the world that payment of members had ceased within her borders."
A politician named Sidebottom opposed the idea, saying there was no way he would give up his allowance. Another member said he would support the Legislative Council allowances being abolished, which raised a cheer. In the end they agreed to a 25 per cent cut for one year.
Since then payment to members has inexorably increased, beginning with MPs overruling the then-Government and voting themselves a 50 per cent increase in 1910.
As Premier Chapman warned 150 years ago, once the principle of paying pollies was allowed, inevitably they would vote themselves pay rises. And they did.
This happened at the same time parties were being formed and preselecting candidates, instead of the old way, where voters in each electorate pushed forward local people to stand.
One government MHA warned that with parties doing the preselecting, and payment of members, we would end up with professional politicians. They would stop responding to concerns and would never leave.