Bills Digest No. 203  1998-99 Ministers of State Amendment Bill 1999


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WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History
Purpose
Background
Main Provisions
Endnotes
Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Passage History

Ministers of State Amendment Bill 1999

Date Introduced: 23 June 1999

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Special Minister of State

Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

To increase the annual amount payable for the salaries of Ministers from $1.6 million to $1.622 million.

Background

Sections 65 and 66 of the Constitution provide for the number of Ministers and for the annual sum payable for their salaries. Section 65 states that:

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Ministers of State shall not exceed seven in number and shall hold such offices as the Parliament prescribes, or, in the absence of provision, as the Governor-General directs.

Section 66 of the Constitution provides that:

There shall be payable to the Queen, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Commonwealth, for the salaries of the Ministers of State, an annual sum, which, until the Parliament otherwise provides, shall not exceed twelve thousand pounds a year.

Parliament first legislated to increase the size of the Ministry and the amount payable in 1915.(1) The current legislation is the Ministers of State Act 1952 (the Principal Act) which specifies the maximum size of the Ministry and appropriates the required amount for ministerial salaries from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The Principal Act needs to be amended from time to time to cover variations in the size of the Ministry or in the amount needed for ministerial salaries. This Bill amends the Principal Act to increase the sum available for ministerial salaries by $22 000. The additional amount is necessary because after the 1998 election, the number of Cabinet ministers was increased from 15 to 17, and the total size of the Ministry from 28 to 30.

Since 1996 there has been a two-tier salary structure for the Ministry. Cabinet ministers (other than the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Treasurer, Leader of the House and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, whose salaries are higher), receive a ministerial salary of $53 919. The 13 members of the outer ministry each receive a ministerial salary of $43 136, approximately $10 000 less than Cabinet ministers. The rationale for the difference is the higher workload of Cabinet ministers. Ministerial salaries are additional to the basic salary of $81 856 paid to Members and Senators.

There has been no increase in either the basic parliamentary salary or in ministerial salaries since 17 October 1996. This is because parliamentary salaries are tied by the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990 to the minimum level of SES Band 2 salaries. Salary adjustments were made under the Government-public sector Agreement, Continuous Improvement in the Australian Public Service Enterprise Agreement 1995-96, which expired at the end of 1996. Ministerial salaries were adjusted at the same rate. Since the introduction of (individual) Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) for the SES, there is no longer any common rate according to which adjustments are made.(2) On 30 March 1999 the Government introduced the Public Employment (Consequential and Transitional) Amendment Bill 1999 which has as one of its objectives, the creation of a link between MPs' salaries and a classification structure created by the Remuneration Tribunal for certain statutory offices.(3) This Bill has not yet been debated.

Main Provisions

The effect of item 1 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is to increase the annual amount payable for the salaries of ministers in a financial year from $1.6 million to $1.622 million.

Endnotes

  1. Ministers of State Act 1915.

  2. For full details of parliamentary salaries see Healy, M. and Winter, G., 'Remuneration of Members of Parliament of Australia', Background Paper (Politics and Public Administration Group), No. 18 1997-98, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998.

  3. 'Second Reading Speech', Public Employment (Consequential and Transitional) Amendment Bill 1999, House of Representatives Debates, 30 March 1999, p. 4686. See also Perdikogiannis, E. and Bennett, R., 'Public Employment (Consequential and Transitional) Amendment Bill 1999, Bills Digest No. 182 1998-99, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1999, p. 5.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Rosemary Bell and Margaret Healy
24 June 1999
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members
and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1999

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1999.

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