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Tuesday, 16 September 2003
Page: 15315

Senator SHERRY (6:20 PM) —I put it to the minister that I believe it would be quite simple to ask and find out the average backbench member of federal parliament's surcharge tax payments each year. Therefore it must be possible to work out an average level of benefit—I am not seeking absolutely precise figures—to federal backbench politicians as a result of this tax reduction over the next four financial years. Also, while I think of it, I would like to know the average level of benefit to cabinet ministers, ministers in the outer ministry, who are not in cabinet and whose pay is at a different rate, and to—

Senator Brown —The Prime Minister.

Senator SHERRY —let's start with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister—

Senator Heffernan —Shadow ministers.

Senator SHERRY —Shadow ministers do not get any additional pay, sadly, Senator Heffernan. They are regarded as backbench. We obviously have a series of categories of remuneration for members of federal parliament determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, determined independently. So I am asking for the level of average benefit for politicians in each category of pay level as determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. My question in respect of judges applied to Federal Court judges, because I am aware of the problem that the minister mentioned in respect of some state judges. I am not sure how many state jurisdictions there are, but there are some state jurisdictions where the surcharge tax does not apply at all following a court ruling. My attitude is that, if everyone is going to pay the tax, everyone should pay it; there should not be exemptions. Could the minister indicate whether there has been any progress in resolving the problem of some state judges not paying the superannuation tax surcharge as a consequence of the recent court decision?