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Thursday, 21 June 2001
Page: 24856

Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:45 PM) —Let me commence my remarks in the second reading debate of the Governor-General Legislation Amendment Bill 2001 by indicating that the bill deals with the salary, taxation and superannuation arrangements for the Governor-General. The bill has four main purposes. They are: firstly, to set the official salary of the next Governor-General, Archbishop Peter Hollingworth; secondly, to remove the income tax exemptions which currently apply to vice-regal representatives; thirdly, to ensure that the superannuation surcharge on retirement allowance payable to governors-general will apply in the same way that it applies to the rest of the community; and fourthly, to provide the governors-general and their widowed spouses with the option to commute part of their retirement pension to meet any surcharge assessments received after retirement or death.

The bill sets the Governor-General's before tax salary at $310,000. This figure has been calculated according to the convention that has applied since 1974 and takes into account the removal of the tax exemption. The existing tax exemptions for the Governor-General date from the time when vice-regal representatives were invariably drawn from the United Kingdom. It is worth noting that even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has paid income tax since 1993. The continuation of the tax exemption for the Governor-General is anachronistic. It is inappropriate. It is perhaps somewhat like having a foreign citizen as our head of state, which is anachronistic in the same way.

The opposition considers the proposed measures in the bill to be fair and reasonable. We support the Governor-General Legislation Amendment Bill 2001. Nevertheless, let me complete this fine oration by saying that I look forward to the day when the Senate will consider the necessary remuneration for an Australian head of state.