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Tuesday, 19 March 1985
Page: 384

Senator ZAKHAROV —Is the Minister for Veterans' Affairs aware that unions and staff associations in the Australian Public Service have been engaged in a wage campaign in recent months, claiming that they received depressed wages in comparison with outside employment? Will the Minister supply available information on the levels of salary being paid to employees of his Department and the number of staff at each level, and how do these figures compare with the Australian work force in general?

Senator GIETZELT —It probably would not be proper to comment on the wage and salary case before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. However, I can say that in my Department approximately two-thirds of the staff is employed in institutions where employees are notoriously lowly paid and the other third is in the administration of my Department-a total of over 12,000 employees. Approximately 55 to 60 per cent of the staff members in the central office and the branch organisations are on salaries of less than average weekly earnings. As I have indicated, on the institution side of my Department, 75 per cent of the staff is receiving salaries less, and often considerably less, than average weekly earnings. Of the total number employed in the Department of Veterans' Affairs, half earn less than $16,000 a year. When superannuation and tax are taken out, their take-home salary is approximately $200 a week. This indicates that public servants, in my Department, at least, are not highly paid in relation to community standards. Therefore, one can understand the insistence by the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association that there should be some wage justice for them in respect of their current applications. I point out that average weekly earnings have now reached $397.40 a week as at December 1984 and that means an annual salary of just over $20,000. On those figures, the salaries of the bulk of my staff fall far short of that average.