Frequently asked questions

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Can a Commonwealth employee or a holder of a full-time public office receive additional remuneration for participation on a Commonwealth board?
Anyone employed on a full-time basis by the Commonwealth (i.e. a member of the Australian Public Service or Public Office Holder) may not receive remuneration for holding a part-time public office, but can receive travelling allowance associated with participation on a Commonwealth board.

Section 7(11) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 provides that a person is not entitled to remuneration in respect of holding, or performing the duties of, a public office on a part-time basis, if the person holds any office or appointment, or is otherwise employed, on a full-time basis in the service or employment of the Commonwealth, the Administration of a Territory, a public statutory corporation, an incorporated company referred to in paragraph 3(4)(da) or an incorporated company all the stock or share in the capital or which is or are beneficially owned by the Commonwealth or by a public statutory corporation.

Whether a State public servant can receive payment for holding a part-time public office (eg on a Federal Government board) is a matter for the relevant State government.

Applies to: Part time; Full time; Principal Executive offices

How can someone request a review of remuneration?
To seek a review of remuneration, a submission requesting such a review and outlining reasons must be put to the Tribunal. Guidelines are available on the website. The guidelines note that it is preferable to include an indication of support from the responsible Minister.

Applies to: Part time; Full time; Principal Executive offices

Can we put in a submission to the Tribunal before the legislation establishing an office has received Royal Assent?

Yes. In that case the Tribunal may agree to make an indicative determination until the legislation is passed. Once the legislation is passed, the relevant department should advise the Secretariat of that fact and of any amendments to the legislation. The Tribunal will issue a formal determination in due course.

PEO's

The Tribunal is willing to make an indicative remuneration decision prior to the establishment of an office, providing that sufficient information is available to make an informed indicative decision. However, a formal and final Tribunal decision on an office cannot take effect until any legislative requirements (such as the office being legislatively established and declared as a PEO) are completed.


Applies to: Part time; Full time; Principal Executive offices

Do we have to wait for the next Tribunal meeting before our submission can be considered?
No. The Tribunal will consider submissions in between the holding of formal meetings if there is an urgent, real need for that to occur.


Applies to: Part time; Full time; Principal Executive offices

Is the Tribunal involved in appointment processes for Statutory Office Holders, Principal Executive Offices, Holders of Full-Time Public Office or Holders of Part-Time Public Office?
No. The Tribunal's role is defined by the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973. It determines or advises on remuneration for a public office and has no role or authority in or over the appointment process and related policies. Questions on appointment procedures for offices considered by Cabinet should be referred to the Cabinet Secretariat in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Applies to: Part time; Full time; Principal Executive offices

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 s3(4) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (the Act). 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. If the status of the office is not clear, the arrangements establishing the office should be considered in order to establish whether the Act applies to that office. Legislation which 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.

In many cases, offices that are not automatically in the Tribunal's jurisdiction (because they are not created in legislation) can be put into the Tribunal's jurisdiction. This process is commonly known as "referral-in". Referral-in occurs through the Minister responsible for the Remuneration Tribunal (the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Public Service) writing 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. Offices where the office holder is appointed by the Governor-General or a Minister of State are offices to which this process can apply.

While there are frequently good reasons for doing so, there is no obligation for a Minister of State to request that the Minister with responsibility for the Remuneration Tribunal refer-in an office. Similarly, there is no obligation on the Minister with responsibility for the Remuneration Tribunal to agree to such a request.


Applies to: Part time; Full time

Is there an obligation to advise the Tribunal of changes such as a new appointment to an office or the resignation of an office holder?
There is no obligation to do so; however, such advice is welcomed as it assists in ensuring that correspondence to the office holder is correctly addressed.


Applies to: Part time; Full time

What should an acting appointee be paid?
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.

It is recommended that Departments/agencies seek legal advice regarding their own particular circumstances.

Applies to: Part time; Full time

If an office in the Tribunal's jurisdiction is abolished, should the Tribunal be advised?
Yes, as a courtesy the responsible Department or agency should advise the Tribunal as soon as possible. This will enable any redundant entries to be removed from the relevant determination(s).

Applies to: Part time; Full time

What should be considered when deciding whether a request should be made for a referral-in?
Factors which might be considered include:

the desirability of having remuneration determined by an experienced, independent authority (and the possible relevance of the Minister being seen to be, and being, in fact, dissociated from the process of fixing remuneration for an office that he/she may have caused to be established);
whether the office will be established for a short or a long time;
the relative importance of the office;
the nature of the work to be undertaken - e.g. consultancy arrangements could be more appropriate; and
the background of the office holder - e.g. there would be no point in the referral-in of a part-time office if it had to be held by a person, such as a full-time Commonwealth employee, who was not entitled to any remuneration for holding it.

Applies to: Full time