24 March 2011
Special Minister of State Gary Gray today released the report of the Committee for the Review of Parliamentary Entitlements and announced that the Government will move immediately to restore the power of the Remuneration Tribunal to determine parliamentary salary.
“I have introduced into the Parliament legislation which will implement a key recommendation of the Review of Parliamentary Entitlements, commonly referred to as the Belcher Report,” Mr Gray said.
“We will restore the power of the Remuneration Tribunal to determine parliamentary base salary and will require the Tribunal to publish reasons for its decisions in relation to parliamentary remuneration. Importantly, we will remove the power of the Parliament to alter parliamentary remuneration determinations made by the Tribunal.
“This initiative will restore integrity to the system for determining the base salary of parliamentarians and remove the potential for political interference in the setting of parliamentarians’ base pay.”
The Committee for the Review of Parliamentary Entitlements, led by former senior public servant Barbara Belcher AM, conducted the first comprehensive review of federal parliamentary entitlements in over 35 years.
Another of the Belcher Report’s recommendations in relation to the staffing profile of the Opposition has already been implemented by the Government. The allocation of positions to the Opposition now reflects the number of Government positions at each classification grouping, not just in total numbers.
In addition, the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010‑2012 now includes a revised classification structure for non-government staff that removes much of the rigidity of the previous structure and places the staffing structure on an equivalent basis to that of Government staff.
Mr Gray said the Government’s initial response to the Belcher Report would build on the foundation of transparency and accountability of parliamentary entitlements set by the Government in its first term of office.
“We have already implemented reforms to the printing and communication entitlements of Senators and Members and have significantly expanded the reporting system to publish all expenditure related to entitlements online.
“The Government will continue to improve the parliamentary entitlements framework, to ensure it is transparent and that it meets the needs of parliamentarians to do their work, and the expectations of the Australian public.”
The Government has released the Belcher Report to encourage discussion of the issues raised in the report. The report is available on the Parliamentary Entitlements page of the Parliamentary Services section of the website of the Department of Finance and Deregulation at http://www.finance.gov.au. Submissions to the Committee for the Review of Parliamentary Entitlements can also be found there.
Mr Gray added that the legislation introduced into the Parliament today also transfers the power to determine the terms and conditions of departmental secretaries and some other Commonwealth office holders from the Prime Minister and Agency Ministers to the Tribunal.
“I am pleased to announce that this action will implement an election commitment made in 2007 by the Labor Party”, Mr Gray said.
“The measures contained in the legislation will restore independence and transparency to the remuneration of parliamentarians, departmental secretaries and certain other office holders.”
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