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Wednesday, 5 May 1993
Page: 114


Senator KEMP (11.18 a.m.) —I rise to support the remarks of my colleagues on this motion. I regard it as a particularly worrying motion for a number reasons, not the least of which is that it is the first of quite a series of major changes which the Government is proposing to the Standing Orders of this Parliament. These changes will affect the capacity of Opposition, Independent and Democrat senators to make the Government more accountable for its actions. It is a very bad start for the new Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Faulkner). This motion has not been justified in any way whatsoever.

  In the old Parliament there were 30 Ministers and in the current Parliament there are 32. In the old Parliament there were four Parliamentary Secretaries and in the current Parliament there are 10. There has been a vast explosion in parliamentary secretaryship. It is very interesting to know why this has occurred. I am not aware of any particular reasons which have justified this very substantial increase in the number of Parliamentary Secretaries.

  I listened very carefully to what Senator Sherry said. He said he was not there as a pay-off and he reminded us—and I am grateful for that—that he did not vote for the current Prime Minister (Mr Keating) in the leadership challenge; he voted for Mr Hawke. He then said that he was there on merit. One would have to say that, as far as we are concerned, that remains to be proved, to put it nicely.

  He then, rather unfortunately—and which, I think, raises some further worries about this whole position—said that he did not receive any lurks and perks, to use an expression used by my colleague Senator Bishop, in relation to this job. I have here a number of pages which are taken from a report by the Remuneration Tribunal and which carefully list all the lurks and perks—


Senator Bishop —Some of them.


Senator KEMP —I thank Senator Bishop. They list some of the lurks and perks of the Parliamentary Secretaries. I propose later to seek leave to incorporate that document in Hansard, with Senator Faulkner's permission and the permission of other honourable senators opposite. But let me just read to the Senate how Senator Sherry and the other nine Parliamentary Secretaries are going to benefit from these new positions, which have not been justified in any way whatsoever. The report states:

A Parliamentary Secretary shall be entitled to be reimbursed for expenses of office reasonably and necessarily incurred in respect of his holding, or performing the functions of, an appointment as a Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister of State, up to a maximum amount of—

wait for it—

$7,000 per annum.

So if I were Senator Sherry I would not worry about losing $7,000 as the Chairman of the Select Committee on Superannuation; he is already covered by clause 1 of the parliamentary entitlements. The document goes on to detail travel expenses.


Senator Watson —Generously.


Senator KEMP —And they are generous. Unlike the ordinary backbenchers of parliament, Senator Sherry enjoys a far wider interpretation of his use of travel allowances and, I suspect, if he follows the precedent set by some of his colleagues, they will be very generously used indeed. Let me read out a number of other entitlements that he has. Clause 5 states:

Where, in the view of the Minister to whom a member or senator is Parliamentary Secretary, it is necessary that the spouse of a Parliamentary Secretary should travel in the company of the Parliamentary Secretary at government expense, the additional cost of a double room over single room accommodation shall be added to the maximum amount payable by way of reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred by a Parliamentary Secretary.

However, it is not as good as it seems, I have to say, as it goes on:

Such additional cost shall be assessed at $10 unless vouched.

I do not know whether Senator Sherry has a spouse, but let me draw his attention to clause 5 when he makes use of those travel allowances which the Prime Minister has generously granted to him. Clause 4 states:

Travelling expenses up to the amounts specified in paragraph 2 shall be payable to a senator or member by way of reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred for each overnight stay in a place other than his or her home base when that stay is occasioned primarily by official business as a Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister of State, or direct travel to or from such business, provided that if he or she remains within his or her electorate—

lucky Senator Sherry—

he or she must stay at least 100 kilometres from his or her home base.


Senator Bishop —Three hundred bucks a night.


Senator KEMP —Senator Bishop has drawn my attention to the fact that Senator Sherry is entitled to $300 a night. It was not correct for Senator Sherry to stand up and say that there are no additional entitlements as a result of his appointment as a Parliamentary Secretary. This Prime Minister, in order to pay off his factional deals and to keep his mates and factions happy, has lifted the number of Parliamentary Secretaries from four to 10. I rather thought that, given the performance of some of them in the last Parliament, four was a bit excessive, but that number has now greatly expanded to 10.

  I urge Senator Faulkner, who is in his first day as Manager of Government Business in the Senate, to stand up and carefully explain to this chamber just why Senator Sherry should be a Parliamentary Secretary. What will be his duties? Could the Minister clarify and correct, to save Senator Sherry any further embarrassment, the details of his particular entitlements because, as I read them, they are very generous indeed. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the three pages of a report from the Remuneration Tribunal headed, `Parliamentary Secretaries—reimbursement of expenses'.

  Leave granted.

  The document read as follows

REMUNERATION TRIBUNAL

Determination Number 8 of 1992

PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES—REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES

Pursuant to sub-section 7(1A) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, the Remuneration Tribunal has inquired into the maximum amounts to be paid out of the public moneys of Australia to Parliamentary Secretaries by way of reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred by them in respect of their holding, or performing the functions of, appointments as Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers of State, and determines the maximum amounts as hereunder, with effect from the date of this determination:

Expenses of Office

1.A Parliamentary Secretary shall be entitled to be reimbursed for expenses of office reasonably and necessarily incurred in respect of his holding, or performing the functions of, an appointment as a Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister of State, up to a maximum amount of $7,000 per annum.

2. Travelling Expenses

Maximum Amount Reimbursable

per overnight stay

Other Other than

Capital a Capital

Office Canberra Cities City

$ $ $

Parliamentary Secretary to a

Minister of State 140 300 155

Conditions of Payment of Travelling Expenses

3. The `home base' of a Parliamentary Secretary for the purposes of this determination shall be his or her principal place of residence (and he or she shall identify their principal place of residence to the President in respect of a senator or to the Speaker in respect of a member of the House of Representatives).

4. Travelling expenses up to the amounts specified in paragraph 2 shall be payable to a senator or member by way of reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred for each overnight stay in a place other than his or her home base when that stay is occasioned primarily by official business as a Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister of State, or direct travel to or from such business, provided that if he or she remains within his or her electorate he or she must stay at least 100 km from his or her home base.

5. Where, in the view of the Minister to whom a member or senator is Parliamentary Secretary, it is necessary that the spouse of a Parliamentary Secretary should travel in the company of the Parliamentary Secretary at government expense, the additional cost of a double room over single room accommodation shall be added to the maximum amount payable by way of reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred by a Parliamentary Secretary. Such additional cost shall be assessed at $10 unless vouched.

6. Nothing in this determination affects the entitlements of a member or senator to travelling allowance under another determination of the Tribunal when not travelling as a Parliamentary Secretary.

Dated this 8th day of April one thousand nine hundred and ninety-two.

(sgd) Mr Justice Mahoney

Chairman

(sgd) L. J. Mangan

Member