NSW members of parliament have been handed millions in extra funding for staff after complaining that the increasingly digital nature of communications with members of the public was overwhelming them.
The Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal on Friday extended the annual budget for MPs offices and entitlements by more than $5 million. The tribunal sets remuneration and allowances for the public sector in NSW.
The money will go towards an extra staff member for MPs to deal with social media and digital communications.
The tribunal said MPs had complained their staff regularly went without lunch breaks and worked on weekends to deal with the influx of digital contact.
While mail contact had remained stable over the past four years, communication via digital means like email had grown 100 percent, the tribunal noted. Most if not all MPs now have social media accounts.
But electorate staff are also required to handle all other types of enquiries, attend meetings and events, organise the MP's diary, handle media requests, keep records, and manage the electorate office.
It has meant an "exponential increase" in work for these staff, the tribunal said.
"Increasingly, communication with constituents is via email or social media, rather than the traditional form of written correspondence," it said.
"Communication via web-based technologies, desktop computers and mobile technologies (eg smartphones and tablet computers) creates a highly interactive platform in which the public expects real time communication."
The ruling means MPs are now entitled to three, rather than two, full-time staff.