The Tribunal is required to determine remuneration for offices that meet the definition of "public office" in sub-section 3(4) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (the Act) along with a range of other offices and appointments such as Departmental Secretaries, Principal Executive Offices and Members of Parliament. All offices established by a Commonwealth law (also known as statutory offices) and appointments made under a Commonwealth law are ‘public offices’ unless the relevant legislation provides otherwise. Legislation that establishes the office, board or committee will generally indicate how remuneration is to be determined. It may be necessary for administering agencies to seek legal advice on whether an office is in the Tribunal's determinative jurisdiction.
Some offices that are not automatically in the Tribunal's jurisdiction (because they are not created in legislation) can be placed in the Tribunal's jurisdiction. These are most commonly appointments made by the Governor-General or a Minister of State.
This process is commonly known as ‘referral-in’. Referral-in occurs when the Minister responsible for the Tribunal (the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) writes to the Tribunal President specifying that the Tribunal must determine remuneration for that office. This would usually occur as the result of a request to that Minister from the Minister with portfolio responsibility for the office.
The Tribunal does not determine its own remuneration, that is a matter for Government.
Generally, the Tribunal has no authority in relation to the remuneration of acting appointees.
Section 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 provides that the person or body who has the power to appoint a person to act in a particular office also has the power to determine the acting appointee's remuneration and allowances unless the enabling legislation (i.e. the Act establishing the office) provides otherwise.
Departments/agencies may need to seek their own legal advice regarding their particular circumstances.
For offices other than Judicial Offices each Tribunal determination comes into effect from a date specified in the determination. Where no date is specified, the date of effect is the day after the determination has been registered with the Federal Register of Legislation.
A remuneration increase for holders of Judicial Office cannot be passed on until after the disallowance period of the relevant determination has passed. In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the disallowance period is 15 parliamentary sitting days after the determination has been tabled.
These arrangements are necessary because sub-section 72(iii) of the Constitution expressly prohibits diminution of a Judge's remuneration while the Judge remains in office - if the increase was put into effect immediately, the Parliament's right to disallow the determination would effectively be removed.
After the disallowance period has passed, any remuneration increase is then paid to Judicial Officers, with any necessary arrears paid from the date the Tribunal determined as the effective date of the increase.
When the Tribunal makes a comprehensive determination relating to a category of offices (e.g. part-time offices) it is called a 'principal' determination and entirely replaces any earlier principal determination.
A principal determination usually covers a group of offices within the Tribunal's jurisdiction or a specific subject area (such as recreation leave). The Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 and, for Members of Parliament, the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017, require the Tribunal to make determinations in relation to some remuneration matters (as opposed to some subject areas such as recreation leave) at intervals of no more than a year. This means that many of the Tribunal's principal determinations are in place for no more than 12 months.
All Tribunal determinations are registered on the Federal Register of Legislation (FRL) other than those relating to Secretaries, which are gazetted.
An amending determination inserts changes into a principal determination. Examples are inserting new offices into a principal determination, modifying provisions for access to particular conditions or a change in a remuneration amount for an office. An amending determination can include a number of changes to provisions in different principal determinations.
Where an amending determination has been issued, a consolidated determination needs to be made. A consolidated determination, also known as a compilation, is essentially a principal determination updated to include the provisions of any amending determinations. The consolidation records the reference number of the amending determination and includes the date of effect of the amended provision. As most amending determinations must be registered on FRL before a consolidated determination can be made (and then also registered with FRL), there is a usually a delay of between 1 and 2 weeks between the time the Tribunal signs an amending determination and the registration of the consolidated determination.
Determinations on the Tribunal’s website
The determinations that contain the current remuneration and conditions for each group of office holders are listed on the relevant office page. This could include either a consolidated determination (if there have been amending determinations) or a principal determination (where there have been no changes made). As it usually takes a week or two for a consolidated determination to be made, at times an amending determination may also display on the office page. Once the amendment has been incorporated into a consolidated determination, the amending determination will be moved to the Document Library on the Tribunal’s website.
The website’s search facility enables users to find answers to questions about the Tribunal's functions and offices. Where there is a FAQ containing the search term the website provides suggestions as text is entered. Paying agencies and other frequent visitors to the site are encouraged to sign up to receive an email alert when changes are made to the website.
Each category of office has a dedicated launch page that provides a background on the office and relevant FAQs. Current determinations, together with current applicable guidelines, statements and reports, display on the launch page. The current determinations could include either consolidated determinations or principal determinations (see the FAQ “What are principal determinations, compilations and amending determinations” for more information).
Most determinations (including associated explanatory statements and if applicable, reasons for determinations) and other statements and reports from 2004 can be found in the Document Library by conducting a filtered search (by office, year and/or document type). Should access be required to historical documentation (generally from 2003 or earlier years) a request can be made to the Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat at enquiry [at] remtribunal.gov.au.
The Tribunal is also keen to receive feedback about the website. You are welcome to email your suggestions and comments to enquiry [at] remtribunal.gov.au.
Rates for meals and incidentals are equivalent to the overseas meals and incidentals rates in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) determination dealing with reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts. The relevant ATO determination is specified in the Tribunal’s Official Travel determination.
The rate of overseas TA payable to an office holder depends on the Travel Tier determined for the office. Accommodation should be provided at a standard reasonably equivalent to that provided for the office holder in Australia.
Class of travel is also dependent on the Travel Tier determined by the Tribunal, i.e.
Tier 1 = First Class or Business Class
Tier 2 = Business Class
Tier 3 = Economy Class
An office holder who is entitled to travel Economy Class may upgrade to Business Class where the duration of the flight exceeds five hours.
It would be appropriate to reduce the reasonable daily overseas meal allowance amounts determined by the Australian Taxation Office by 50 per cent where dinner has been provided or paid for by an entity other than the office holder, or 25 per cent in the case of either breakfast or lunch. Alternatively, it would also be permissible for office holders to comply with any relevant administrative guidelines put in place for employees in their agency where these are not inconsistent with the Official Travel determination.
Total remuneration (TR) is defined in the relevant determination applying to the particular office holder (i.e. Full-time Offices, Principal Executive Offices, Specified Statutory Offices, Departmental Secretaries and Judicial and Related Offices).
An office holder's cash salary is the component of TR that remains when all other payments and benefits, including the Employer Superannuation Contribution, are honoured. Cash salary should not be confused with the superannuation salary determined by the Tribunal for members of defined benefit schemes.
Cash salary equals TR, less the Employer Superannuation Contribution, less all payments and benefits included in the office holder's remuneration package (other than those specifically excluded in accordance with the relevant determination).
The process is outlined in the diagram below (note that slightly different superannuation arrangements apply to PEOs - see "How is cash salary calculated for a PEO"):
The Employer's Superannuation Contribution*
Other payments and benefits e.g. allowances, motor vehicle, parking, fringe benefits tax and any salary sacrifice payments e.g. additional superannuation contributions.
* The Employer's Superannuation Contribution is defined in the Tribunal's determination.
Essentially it is:
The Tribunal may determine recreation leave for full-time holders of public office (but not part-time) where the enabling legislation (i.e. the Act establishing the office) states that the Tribunal will determine the matter.
It cannot determine other types of leave, such as personal and miscellaneous leave, for public office holders other than Secretaries of Departments.
The Tribunal has more general powers for Principal Executive Offices (PEOs) and for Judicial and Related offices - it can determine other types of leave as outlined in Part 5 of the PEO determination and in Part 2 of the Judicial and Related Offices determination.
Defined benefit schemes (e.g. PSS/CSS)
* For total remuneration (TR) and calculation of cash salary purposes:
The office holder’s new superannuation salary should be used to calculate the notional Employer Superannuation Contributions from the date of effect of the increase determined by the Tribunal.
* For contribution purposes:
Changes to any amount of superannuation that the office holder personally contributes to the PSS or CSS are made in accordance with the rules of the scheme, for instance, an office holder’s salary for contributions purposes is updated on the person’s birthday, falling on or after the date of effect.
For PSSAP members the value of the Employer Superannuation Contribution should be updated from the date of effect of the Tribunal's increase; actual employer contributions will also be updated at that time. The minimum “guarantee” payments for members of other accumulation funds should be updated when TR is adjusted, or each 1 July if the maximum contribution base applies. Actual contributions can be modified at any time to reflect salary packaging preferences of the office holder, but the minimum contribution required by the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 must be paid, and, for Principal Executive Offices (PEOs), reported to the Tribunal on PEO notifications.