The woman responsible for one of the most lucrative contracts in Australian TV history says that if the world was just, nurses would earn more than celebrity presenters.
“Is the world fair? Should nurses earn more than TV stars? Probably, but they just don’t,” Ten programming boss Beverley McGarvey told The Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
Slightly surprising, given this comes from the woman responsible for signing Lisa Wilkinson’s reported $2.3 million contract with Channel 10 after her sudden departure from the Nine Network last month.
But – as McGarvey said – that’s not the way the world works.
“Obviously when you look at school teachers and nurses and doctors, should those people be earning more than somebody who has fun and travels the world? Of course. There is a commercial reality that drives things, the market dictates it.”
The national average salary for a teacher in Australia is $65,371, while the equivalent for a nurse is slightly less at $63,784.
That's 30 and 31 times less than Australia's most well-paid TV presenters who earn $2 million a year or more.
It's an unfortunate fact that many people who work in the industries who help society the most, earn the least.
Given they save lives, and help our most vulnerable individuals, paying them the salaries currently reserved for TV hosts, sports stars, pop personalities and politicians is certainly deserved.
And yet, it's simply impossible.
Choosing to be a teacher or a nurse is admirable - they do so much for us, and so often go without thanks, without limelight, and, yes, without much money.
Listen: Should Lisa and Karl have discussed pay as a team? Post continues after audio.
We know that it's never been harder to be a teacher or a nurse, with many bravely speaking out about the incredible pressures they are under on very little pay. It needs to be fixed.
The gaping chasm needs to be closed - even if it's a little bit.
And that's not to devalue those who work in the entertainment industry. You can debate the salaries TV celebrities earn, but many, including Wilkinson, have worked hard at their careers for decades to get where they are.
Women like Carrie Bickmore and Samantha Armytage are paid well because they are charismatic, engaging, and brighten our living rooms on a daily basis. So too do men like Karl Stefanovic.
They get paid big money because Australia has big love for them.
But we are allowed to feel some level of injustice, that the women and men who educate our children and nurse them back to health when they are ill are not paid enough.
Nurses and teachers deserve more than what they're getting. They just do.