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Thursday, 17 October 2002
Page: 5456

Senator Sherry asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 30 August 2002:

(1) For each department within the Minister's portfolio, how is superannuation calculated (ie. is the superannuation entitlement calculated on base salary and other income payments, such as overtime allowance or performance bonuses, or on base salary alone).

(2) If the department calculates superannuation on a broader basis, by incorporating all income payments in the calculation of superannuation entitlements, but allows employees to opt out of this arrangement so as to reduce the base upon which superannuation is calculated, what proportion of employees do this.

Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) My Department administers the superannuation salary of its employees in accordance with the rules of the relevant superannuation funds. In most cases, employees are members of either the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS) or the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS). For both the PSS and the CSS superannuation salary is the total amount of a member's salary package recognised by the relevant legislation for superannuation purposes.

Changes to the PSS and CSS superannuation legislation which took effect from 1 July 1997 now allow employers and staff to agree on how salary for superannuation is to be calculated under the provisions of an agreement. An “agreement” generally means an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) or a certified agreement.

Where superannuation salary is not specified in an agreement, the superannuation salary regulations provide that, additional to the salary payable to an employee, some allowances are automatically recognised as salary for superannuation purposes. Other prescribed allowances are recognised for superannuation if they meet specified criteria concerning the length of time the allowance has been received.

In both the PSS and the CSS, whilst there are a number of automatically recognised allowances, the only one presently of relevance to my Department's employees is first aid allowance. Allowances that may be included if certain criteria are met include higher duties allowance, Departmental Liaison Officer allowance, restriction allowance and shift allowance. Performance bonuses are not recognised as allowances by the PSS or the CSS.

All non-SES employees of my Department who are PSS or CSS members have their superannuation salary determined having regard to their base salary level, automatically recognised allowances and allowances which satisfy the specified criteria.

My Department's SES employees have their superannuation salary specified in their AWAs. The superannuation salary specified in SES AWAs is an amount equivalent to the employee's base salary plus an amount equivalent to the cash in lieu allowance of the private-plated vehicle the employee is entitled to.

(2) There have been no cases of SES employees either declining an offered AWA because of the proposed superannuation salary or requesting an amendment to the proposed superannuation salary.