Senators’ remuneration and entitlements
Section 48 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to determine the allowances of members of the Houses.
The remuneration, allowances and entitlements of senators are determined by the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952, the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990, and determinations made by the Remuneration Tribunal under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973. Superannuation entitlements of senators are covered by parliamentary superannuation acts. The provision of personal staff for senators is covered by the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.
The executive government determines and provides certain entitlements to members of the Houses, such as offices in their states and electorates.
In 1990 a decision by the government to provide certain postage entitlements to members of the Houses beyond the entitlements determined by the Remuneration Tribunal was challenged in the courts. The decision was the subject of dispute because it was said to favour government members over non-government members. The High Court held that the executive government has no power to provide benefits to members of the Houses in the nature of remuneration without statutory authorisation. The appropriation of money for such benefits in an appropriation act is not sufficient authority. Following this judgment, the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 was passed to authorise the provision of benefits to members by the executive government. The Act sets out in general terms the benefits which the government may provide.