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When does an office fall within the determinative jurisdiction of the Tribunal?

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.

What are principal determinations, amending determinations and consolidated determinations?

Principal Determinations

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.

Amending Determinations

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.

Consolidated 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.

What do Federal Members of Parliament get paid?

The remuneration of Members of Parliament (MPs) – i.e. all senators and members of the House of Representatives, including Ministers and Parliamentary office holders – is made up of several components:

Base salary

All MPs receive a base salary. The current rate of the base salary is in the Tribunal’s Members of Parliament determination which is available on the Parliamentary Offices page of the Tribunal’s website.

Additional Salary

Additional salary may be payable to MPs who are also Ministers or office holders. Additional salary is expressed as a percentage of base salary.

The Tribunal makes recommendations to the Government on Ministers' additional salary, and the Government may accept or reject the Tribunal's advice. The Tribunal’s most recent report on Ministerial salaries is available on the Parliamentary Offices page of the Tribunal’s website.

Additional salaries determined by the Tribunal for office holders are set out in the Tribunal’s Members of Parliament determination.

Other remuneration and allowances

The Tribunal also determines a range of remuneration related provisions (such as private plated vehicles) and allowances (including electorate allowance) for MPs, as well as provisions for former MPs (such as post-retirement travel). The current provisions are in the Tribunal’s Members of Parliament determination.

Superannuation

Superannuation is not determined by the Tribunal but is governed by the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948 and the Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004. All questions on parliamentary superannuation should be directed to the Department of Finance.

Expenses

While not part of remuneration, MPs may also be paid expenses incurred in the course of conducting their parliamentary business, such as travel and transport costs.  This includes some travel expenses associated with family reunion in recognition of the extensive travel undertaken by MPs. From 1 January 2018 MPs’ work expenses are prescribed in the Parliamentary Business Resources Regulations. At least once each year, the Tribunal will inquire into and report to the Special Minister of State on matters relating to travel expenses and travel allowances for MPs. The actual travel allowance rates will be determined by the Tribunal and published in the Members of Parliament determination.

What is Electorate Allowance?

Electorate Allowance is an expenses of office allowance payable to MPs, including Ministers and Parliamentary office holders, to cover the costs necessarily incurred in providing services to their constituents. Any part of the allowance that is used for allowable electorate expenses, as decided by the Commissioner of Taxation, is not subject to income tax.

The Members of Parliament determination, available on the  Parliamentary Offices page of the Tribunal's website, sets out the current rates of Electorate Allowance.

Accessing documents 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.