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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Page: 3467

Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (9:26 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Law Officers Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 will provide Solicitors-General with an entitlement to long service leave.

Until 31 December 1997, the salary and leave entitlements for the person holding the office of Solicitor-General were the same as those of a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Section 16 of the Law Officers Act 1964 provided at the same time that the Solicitor-General would have a non-contributory pension under the Judges Pension Act 1968, while section 16A provided a payment to the Solicitor-General on retirement in lieu of long service leave.

In accordance with the former government’s wish to break the nexus between the terms and conditions of the Solicitor-General and those applying to a judge, the Law Officers Amendment Act 1998 amended the Law Officers Act to vary the terms and conditions of service for the office of Solicitor-General. After 31 December 1997, the terms and conditions of the Solicitor-General became similar to those of senior members of the Australian Public Service. The act terminated the Solicitor-General’s entitlements to a judge’s pension and payment in lieu of long service leave. It also provided for the Solicitor-General’s remuneration to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.

By 2003, it became apparent that the changes made by the 1998 amendments to the Solicitor-General’s employment conditions had not taken account of the previous long service leave entitlement. With the amendment of section 16A of the Law Officers Act, the entitlement to a judge’s pension and payment in lieu of long service leave no longer applied to the office of Solicitor-General after 31 December 1997, leaving the Solicitor-General with no coverage for long service leave. It was never intended, nor is it now, that the holder of the office of Solicitor-General should not have access to long service leave entitlements.

The current bill will amend section 10 of the Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976 to ensure that Solicitors-General will have such an entitlement and the Law Officers Act will also be amended to make it clear that sections 6 and 7 of that act have effect subject to the Long Service Leave Act. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Farmer) adjourned.