Since 1974 the Parliament has approved the salary for each incoming Governor-General, as the level is set through amendment of the Governor-General Act 1974. Section 3 of the Constitution provides that ‘the salary of a Governor-General shall not be altered during his continuance in office’.
The salary level has conventionally been commensurate with that of the Chief Justice of the High Court. The salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal; from 1 July 2013 the base salary is $526,070. The Governor-General’s salary is set to moderately exceed the estimated average salary of the Chief Justice over a notional three-year period. In setting an appropriate salary, consideration is also given to any pension received by incumbents for previous employment.
This is in line with the precedent established by Sir William Deane in 1995, who asked that his salary as Governor-General be set to take into account the non-contributory pension he received under the Judges Pension Act 1968 after retiring from the High Court of Australia. In 2003 Major General Jeffery took the decision to donate his military pension to charity during his term of office as Governor-General. The outgoing Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce’s salary was set at $394,000, a lesser amount than the $415,690 received by the then Chief Justice of the High Court.
The incoming Governor-General, General Peter Cosgrove will receive a salary of $425,000. The salary has been set after considering the Commonwealth-funded military pension he already receives.
This paper, Governors-General—Salary and Pension, provides a history of and explains the salary and pension payable to Governors-General.