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Tuesday, 13 May 2003
Page: 10973


Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 11 March 2003:

In relation to the employees working at the Joint Defence Facility, Pine Gap:

(1) Has there been any form of industrial action by any employees working at Pine Gap over the past 3 years; if so (a) which employees were involved in the action; (b) what reason was given for undertaking the action; and (c) what was the response to the action.

(2) Are the terms and conditions of employment for citizens of the United States of America (US) working at the Pine Gap different to the terms and conditions for: (a) Australian citizens; and (b) US citizens who are permanent residents of Australia, working there.

(3) If the terms and conditions of employment are different for these groups of people: (a) can details of these differences be provided; and (b) can an explanation for the differences be provided.

(4) Do US citizens working at Pine Gap pay the same rates of income tax as: (a) Australia citizens; and (b) US citizens who are permanent residents of Australia, working there.

(5) If different rates of income tax apply for these groups of people: (a) can details of these differences be provided; and (b) can an explanation for the differences be provided.

(6) Are there differential rates of pay for: (a) US citizens; (b) US citizens who are permanent residents of Australia; and (c) Australian citizens.

(7) If different rates of pay apply for these groups of people: (a) can details of the differences be provided; and (b) can an explanation for the differences be provided.

(8) In what currency are: (a) US citizens; (b) US citizen who are permanent residents of Australia; and (c) Australian citizens, working at Pine Gap paid (for example, in $US or $A).


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(a) Contractor employees periodically appeal their dismissal. These cases have been handled in accordance with Australian industrial relations procedures. There is currently a group action in process involving some, but not all, Australians employed by Raytheon Corporation regarding compensation.

(b) To support the employees' claim for salary increases in a new Certified Agreement.

(c) An action to terminate the current Certified Agreement was brought to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, but the commission has declined to proceed. Press reports indicate the workers are considering filing a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission case. Negotiations between the Australian Raytheon employees and the contractor are continuing. No response by the facility has been required or taken. There has been no disruption to facility activities.

(2) (a) Yes.

(b) No.

(3) (a) Representatives of the Government of Australia and the United States (US) Government are not directly involved in these issues, which are considered a matter between the contractor and their individual employees. In general, US personnel of contractors are employed under US laws, terms and conditions, and Australian personnel of contractors are employed under Australian laws, terms and conditions.

(b) As discussed above, the contractor is charged with ensuring compliance with the applicable regulations and statutes applicable to all categories of staff they employ.

(4) (a) No. Section 9 of the Agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of the United States of America relating to the establishment of a Joint Defence Space and Research Facility covers tax matters; essentially, US personnel pay US tax and Australian personnel pay Australian tax. This is consistent with the elective provisions of the GOA/US treaty governing tax treatment for both Australians residing in the US and Americans residing in Australia.

(b) As per (4) (a), tax treatment is governed by treaty. We believe most US citizens exercise the provisions to pay US taxes.

(5) (a) Refer to part (4) (a). Information on the Australian and US tax provisions are publicly available.

(b) The differences are not governed by the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap or contractor policy, but by the election employees make under the provisions of the tax treaty referenced in part (4).

(6) (a) Paid according to US industrial relations system.

(b) Refer to part (6)(a).

(c) Paid according to Australian industrial relations system.

(7) (a) This information can be found in relevant Certified Agreements for Australian citizens. For all contractor employees, this information is considered competition sensitive and generally not releasable. Raytheon employees are covered under the Space Tracking Award 1998, as modified by the Raytheon E-Systems Inc, Certified Agreement 1999.

(b) US personnel are employed under the US industrial relations system and Australian personnel are employed under the Australian industrial relations system.

(8) (a) Paid in US dollars funds, via a bank deposit into US financial institutions.

(b) Refer to part (8)(a).

(c) Paid in Australian dollars, via cheque or bank deposit into Australian financial institutions.