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Wednesday, 13 November 1985
Page: 2098


Senator HARRADINE(5.22) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I understand that it will be rather difficult for me to say what I want and not transgress Standing Orders in respect of another matter which will come before this chamber at about 5.45 p.m. It concerns the disapproval motion that I shall move about the Remuneration Tribunal's decision to grant overseas travel entitlements to the de facto partners of members of parliament. The Remuneration Tribunal's job is difficult indeed. The Tribunal consists of the Chairman, Mr Justice Mahoney, Mr R. M. Porter and Mr L. J. Mangan. They have presented a four-page annual report. Frankly, I find it inadequate to explain the breadth of the work that the Tribunal has done in the last year. I also find it inadequate because in the Tribunal's 1985 recommendations, which have been tabled in the Parliament, there is little explanation of the decisions that have been taken in its determinations. I do not expect the annual report of the operations of the Tribunal to be the place for reasons for judgments to be made. But I point out that page 1 of the report under consideration states:

The functions of the Tribunal are to . . . inquire into and determine allowances payable to Ministers of State, and the remuneration and allowances of Senators and Members of the Commonwealth . . .

Part 4 states:

. . . inquire into and report on or determine matters significantly related to (3) above.

That may be a difficult task for the Remuneration Tribunal but the way that it has lumped all those matters into one determination makes our task of effective scrutiny and control of the Remuneration Tribunal's decision almost impossible. We will find that when we come to the decision by the Tribunal to grant de facto partners of members of parliament overseas travel entitlements.

I have received senior counsel's advice that the Remuneration Tribunal Act contains nothing to prevent the Tribunal making a separate determination on a matter. I take this opportunity as the Remuneration Tribunal's annual report is now before us to state that, whilst we in the Parliament have delegated to the Tribunal a very difficult task, it should not act to circumvent the right of this Parliament to exercise ready control and efficient scrutiny of delegated legislation. It should have very serious regard for that. I believe that later today the Parliament should have very serious regard to that matter of great principle affecting this institution.

Question resolved in the affirmative.