salaries for consultant/specialists in queensland, australia.

This post tells you how much you can in earn in Queensland at Consultant/Specialist level in medicine.

I’ll use the term Staff Specialist as this is the terminology Queensland uses re Consultant/Specialist as such.

Now, I’m sure everyone reading this knows someone who is working as a doctor in Australia. I’m sure they give you an opinion on this hospital, that college, those salaries – on bloody well everything.

You’re probably sick of hearing about it. I get it. The phrase most dreaded in medical workforce is “I have a friend in Australia who tells me he gets paid x” or worse “my friend, a psychiatrist, lives also in ****** and she tells me the town is a shithole.” etc.

It may seem obvious but worth stressing – few things are negotiable with a public health service when it comes to your remuneration. It is unlikely a Staff Specialist in the same job with the same level of experience, the same town will get a different deal from you. The industrial agreement, set in Queensland industrial relations law, is what it is. Other than deciding what level to decide your base salary (which is based on experience) and your relocation/accommodation benefits everything else is set in stone.

So next time you hear from a friend who tells you otherwise just remember this. Trust me, the figures below are correct and appropriate for an OTD’s first job in Australia. If you don’t trust me Possum feel free to trawl through the 45 odd page industrial agreement yourself and then report back me to when you’re done.

Also refer to the glossary for this post after my spiel. It explains some Australian employment vernacular that you may not be familiar with in respect to standard benefits awarded to Aussie workers.

So, Queensland. Generally regarded as the highest paying state for OTD Staff Specialists in Australia. Also famous for its bananas, beautiful beaches, lifestyle, political corruption, ginger beer, coal seam gas fields and bikie gangs. To be fair to “The Sunshine State”, I’d live there, especially the Sunshine Coast. It is beautiful. There is a brand spanking new hospital there by the way. I’d also give Brisbane or “Brisvegas” a nudge as well. Nice clean city. Can be a bit dull but this is exactly what the international airport is for.

Back to the terms.

The Moca. No, it is not a steaming hot chocolate with a shot of espresso. It is the industrial agreement which governs your salary and benefits in Queensland. It is known as the Medical Officers’ Certified Agreement (No.4) 2015 or Moca for short.

Your contracted hours in Queensland for a Staff Specialist are 80 hours per fortnight.

Staff Specialists note: your on-call is negotiated when you start work based on your own preferences and service demands. Unlike NSW, where your on-call is paid as an allowance set out in your letter of offer, or in Victoria where your on-call compensation is included in your weekly salary, Queensland makes no mention of on-call allowances in your letter of offer. The % on-call rate is set out in the award and is 12% of your hourly rate. This means the salary package in Queensland for a public health position looks sensational – a generous package PLUS an undetermined on-call component. Yippee!

Obviously, you can calculate your potential on-call earnings yourself. Find out likely roster, work out how much on-call you’d like to work, refer to your L band of experience, convert into an hourly rate and apply the on-call %.

The following figures are based on the Moca as it was July 2017. A new Moca will likely need to be renegotiated in time for 1st July 2018. I don’t predict any major changes other a standard 2.5% increase on base salary amounts. Either way, I’ll be all over it like a hungry kid on a cupcake and will bring you news of major changes.

For Staff Specialists, salary bands are based on number of years of consultant/specialist level experience one has after the completion of your specialist training,  In Queensland they use the following coding in correspondence relating to base salary amounts. So L18 = 1 year experience as a staff specialist, L27 = 10 years plus.

L18 – AU171,044

L19 – AU175,628

L20 – AU180,885

L21 – AU184,788

L22 – AU189,369

L23 – AU193,956

L24 – AU198,678

L25 – AU204,543

L26 – AU210,747

L27 – AU216, 865

L28 – AU226,019

L29 – AU238,242

L28 & L29 are “eminent” or “pre-eminent” status. I won’t go into management allowances as chances are few for a migrating Staff Specialist to secure a management position.

So lucky you, you’ll get offered one of these bands. As well as this base salary you will also get an:

Attraction and Retention Incentive Allowance (4.14.1).

This is 50% of your offered base salary level. This applies to all levels of experience for Staff Specialists.

This allowance also doubles as your private practise allowance (see glossary at the end).

Queensland Regional and Rural Attraction Allowance (4.14.2).

5% of your base salary amount for Staff Specialists employed in Cairns and Hinterland, Townsville (excluding Palm Island) and Darling Downs services.

10% of base salary for Staff Specialists employed on Palm Island, or in Central West, Mackay, Central Queensland, Wide Bay, and South West health services.

15% of base salary for SMOs employed in Torres – Cape York and North West regions.

There are additional remote allowances for specific locations. These vary between AU6900 – and AU48,300. It  would be very unlikely for an OTD to secure a position in these places so we won’t factor these into our example remunerations packages below, OK?

Professional Development Allowance (4.9.3).

For Staff Specialists at all levels the allowance is AU20,000. Professional development leave is 3.6 weeks per annum.

Motor Vehicle Allowance (4.19).

This tasty little allowance also gets Queensland Health’s noses in front of who pays the most. This gets paid fortnightly along with your base salary and other allowances. For Staff Specialists L18-L24 the Motor Vehicle Allowance is AU21,000 per annum. For L25 up, it is AU25,500.


Superannuation is 9.5%. It is calculated on base salary and the attraction and retention allowance only. Super is also paid on on-call etc.

Annual leave loading allowance.

17.5% of your base salary earned during your annual leave (see glossary below).

Overtime (4.4.2).

270% of your base salary for such excess duty hours after 80hrs per fortnight.

Oncall (4.11.3).

All Staff Specialists at all levels will be paid a rate equivalent to 12% of their hourly base pay rate level.

Annual leave

4 weeks. There is also maternity and paternity leave. Sick leave and carers leave. Quite generous actually.

Relocation and accommodation benefits.

Generally, Queensland Health services will pay AU10,000-AU15,000 as an allowance payable to you upon presentation of relocation receipts when you start work. Expect to negotiate 4 – 12 weeks of accommodation – whether it be a serviced apartment or a weekly stipend. Don’t worry, if for whatever reason you haven’t found the house or apartment of your dreams, I haven’t heard of a service that throws you out. It easily extended. Relocation and accommodation are the only things the hiring manager has the discretion to decide but they must do this within guidelines.

I dusted off my abacus and calculated the following examples for Staff Specialists with 1, 5 and 10 year levels of experience. So you didn’t have to. Aren’t I the cat’s whiskers?

Don’t forget though, I cannot guarantee these are the figures you will get offered – they are educated estimates!

Tax? You’ll be taxed at approx. 40%.

Example total package of specialist with 1 year experience.

Total: AU324,242 plus on-call.

Cash component: AU299,868.

Super: AU24,374.

Example total package with 1 year experience 5% location allowance.

Total: AU332,794 plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU308,420.

Super: AU24,374.

Example total package specialist with 1 year experience & 10% location allowance.

Total: AU341,346. plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU316,973.

Super: AU24,374.

Example total package with 5 years experience.

Total: AU354,587 plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU327,602.

Super: AU26,985.

Example total package with 5 years experience 5% location allowance.

Total: AU364,055 plus on-call.

Cash component: AU337,070.

Super: AU26,985.

Example total package with 5 years experience & 10% location allowance.

Total: AU373,524 plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU346,539..

Super: AU26,985

Example total package with 10 years experience.

Total: AU404,620 plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU373,717.

Super: AU30,903.

Example total package with 10 years experience 5% location allowance.

Total: AU415,463 plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU384,560.

Super: AU30,903.

Example total package with 10 years experience 10% location allowance.

Total: AU426,307 plus on-call.

Salary and allowance component: AU395,404.

Super: AU30,903.

I haven’t included leadership amounts as 9 times out of 10 they tend to require local Fellows of respective colleges.

Here is the brief glossary for Australian remuneration package terminology which are all used throughout Australia states and territories.

Annual Leave Loading Allowance.

This is a brilliant allowance. It doesn’t come to much but I love the fact it still exists, thumbing its nose at the bosses. This allowance was designed back in the day when there was no paid annual leave for workers. It compensated them whilst they are away on holiday. 17.5% of your weekly wage x weeks annual leave = annual leave loading cash. The existence of this allowance is testimony to the importance of unions. Word.

Long service leave.

A retention strategy. Designed to keep you working for your employer for as long as possible. Hit a target of years of employment (normally between 8 -15 years) and you will qualify for paid annual leave of between 3-6months. Each health service has a different long service leave policy but they all have one. You also have the option of taking this as a cash payment which I think a lot of people do who are in less well paid jobs.

Private practise allowance

These are your fees for treating people with private health insurance who present to at a public hospital. The Attraction and Retention Allowance doubles as your Private Practice Allowance. In WA, there is no Attraction and Retention Allowance – just a 50% Private Practise Allowance. FYI In Queensland, private practice arrangements have aimed to address the following key objectives relevant to your individual situation. Mainly, to compensate Consultant/Specialists in Queensland at a competitive level,  to address medical workforce shortages in the public sector, in Queensland – predominantly in diagnostic specialties by letting Consultant/Specialists retain some of their billings.


Aussie’s like to shorten every word so lets refer to superannuation as ‘super’. Super is your employer pension fund. By law, every employer has to make contributions to an employees fund fund of choice or a default one set up by the employer. The minimum amount your employer has to make is 9.5% of base salary.  What additional allowances it is calculated on is subjective to the employer – some pay on base salary, others include an allowance or two. Queensland Health base theirs on base salary and the Attraction and Retention Incentive Allowance whilst Victorian health services apply it to base salary only. You get the picture. You can also make voluntary contributions from your salary to top this up. To what level you can top up to is dependent on your employer’s policy. You can do it via your employer’s salary sacrifice scheme (definition below) which provides tax benefits. You can choose your own super fund, choose which sector/s to invest in – just like a stock portfolio, or just use the default one chosen by your employer which will be designed for and marketed to health professionals. You can only access your super when you reach the age of 60 and it is not taxed when you withdraw it. Please seek professional financial advice regarding your super.

Salary sacrifice/salary packaging.

This is a deal between and employer and employee – an approved way for the employee to receive benefits like additional super, motor vehicle, CPD fees etc. rent, mortgage, by way of a pre-tax salary payment – by paying for these items with a pre-tax deduction means you will be taxed on your remaining income thereby actually lowering your taxable income = you pay less tax.

If I’ve missed something I’m sure some pedant will correct me.

Photo credit

Ethan Robertson


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