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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2417


Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)(3.46) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

Following the handing down of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission's decision in the April 1984 National Wage Case, the Remuneration Tribunal has issued reports and determinations in respect of offices within its jurisdiction.

On 5 April the Tribunal recommended, and determined, for offices within its jurisdiction, salary increases of 4.1 per cent and increases in expenses of office allowances, electorate allowances and other allowances apart from travelling allowances of around 15 per cent. The Government takes the view that national wage case decisions should be applied consistently, and supports the Tribunal's decision to increase salaries by the recent 4.1 per cent national wage increase.

The increase of approximately 15 per cent in allowances, however, is not supported by the Government. It considers that it would be appropriate to limit the increase to that which would flow from the two national wage case decisions which have been handed down since the end of the salaries and wages pause-that is, about 8.6 per cent. Details of the Tribunal's findings are contained in its reports and determinations of April 1984 which have been presented to the parliament.

The purpose of this Bill is to vary the rates of expenses of office allowance and electorate allowance determined by the Tribunal; to implement the Tribunal's recommendations with respect to the salaries of the judiciary and the offices of President and Member of the Inter-state Commission, while providing an 8.6 per cent increase in expenses of office allowance; and to increase the maximum annual sum payable for the salaries of Ministers of State.

Part III prescribes rates of expenses of office allowance, electorate allowance and other allowances apart from travelling allowance in accordance with the Government's decision to modify the tribunal's determinations. The cost of the 8 .6 per cent increase in allowances will be of the order of $84,000 in 1983-84 and $340,000 in a full year.

The constitution provides that the remuneration of members of the judiciary and the president and members of the inter-state commission shall be such as the parliament may fix. Part II of the Bill amends the schedule to the remuneration and allowances act to implement the increased rates of salary contained in the tribunal's reports numbers 2 and 3, and to increase expenses of office allowances by 8.6 per cent.

Clause 15 of the Bill amends the Inter-state Commission Act 1975 so that the rates of remuneration for the president and members of the commission may be included in the remuneration and allowances act and amended by the parliament in the same way as those for judicial officeholders are amended. Clause 15 also passes on to the President and members an increase based on the tribunal's recommendations accepted by the Government in November 1983.

The additional cost of salary increases for these officeholders is of the order of $70,000 for 1983-84 and $270,000 in a full year. The cost of increases in expenses of office allowance is of the order of $9,000 for 1983-84 and $33,000 for a full year.

Section 66 of the constitution prescribes, subject to the parliament otherwise providing, a maximum annual sum for the payment of salaries of ministers. Part IV of the Bill amends the ministers of state act to increase the annual sum from $590,000 to $610,000, to cover the 4.1 per cent salary increase recommended by the tribunal in report number 1 of 1984.

The date of effect for these amendments is the date recommended by the tribunal , that is, the first pay period commencing on or after 6 April 1984.

The Bill also makes a number of amendments to the Remuneration Tribunals Act 1973. The most significant of these is an amendment to require the tribunal when making future reports and determinations, to have regard to the principles of wage fixation established by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on 23 September 1983, and to national wage case decisions handed down by the commission from time to time.

An amendment is also proposed to enable the tribunal to determine that the remuneration of public officeholders should move automatically with the remuneration of an office determined by some other Commonwealth tribunal or authority. This would allow the tribunal to determine, for example, that the remuneration of the less senior public officeholder group move automatically with its counterparts in the second and third divisions of the Australian Public Service. On two occasions in the past, these salaries have moved out of alignment.

Finally, two minor amendments are proposed. The first of these removes the tribunal's power to inquire into, and report on, the remuneration of judges of the supreme court of the Northern Territory. Executive authority in respect of the administration of the court was transferred to the Northern Territory Government in 1979. That Government has now advised that its own remuneration tribunal, established in 1981, has been asked to report to the administrator on the remuneration of judges of the Supreme Court. The second amendment is one to bring the provisions relating to membership of the tribunal into line with other statutory bodies, by providing that a member holds office for a period which does not exceed five years.

Further information on the clauses of the Bill is contained in the explanatory memorandum which is being circulated to honourable senators.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Collard) adjourned.