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Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal releases report

Steve Sedgwick
Public Service Commissioner

Media release

The Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal today released Part II of the report on its review of the remuneration of Parliamentarians, Department Secretaries and Specified Statutory Officers* (SSOs).

Part 1 of its Review was released in early 2010.

Consistent with the conclusions of its earlier review, the Tribunal has proposed to re-base the remuneration packages for Department Secretaries and SSOs, identifying that the remuneration of these executives has not kept pace with that of other senior public servants.

The Tribunal noted in its report that over the past 12 or more years, Secretaries have received economic adjustments to their remuneration but not adjustments that have recognised the growth in the scale of Departments’ operations and budgets that fall under the stewardship of Secretaries. 

In acknowledging that Department Secretaries have many difficult and complex responsibilities requiring high levels of dedication and discretion, the Tribunal looked at the remuneration available to other senior executive roles in both the public and private sector.

The Tribunal has proposed that the re-basing of the remuneration of Secretaries will be phased in from the first quarter of 2012, with the final increment falling due in July 2014. The Tribunal has recommended a two-tier remuneration structure for Secretaries.  The Tribunal has delayed issuing its final determination until next year, amongst other things, to enable the implications to be assessed for the classification structure of recent Machinery of Government changes.

It is important to note that the Tribunal’s proposals concern total fixed remuneration.  It did not propose any kind of performance bonus or incentive in addition to these sums, which in the private sector are typically paid to chief executives in addition to fixed remuneration.

In reaching its conclusions, the Tribunal also took into account that, unlike any other employee of the APS, the appointment of a Secretary may be terminated by the Prime Minister at any time, under Section 59 of the Public Service Act 1999.

Once the Tribunal has issued its determination, including its determination of the classification to which each of the present offices of Secretary is assigned, individuals will be allocated to pay points by the Secretary of PMC in consultation with the President of the Remuneration Tribunal and the Commissioner.

Mr Sedgwick said that

the Tribunal’s proposals will reset the relativity between Secretaries and the most senior members of the SES to better reflect their relative responsibilities. The pay gap between Secretaries and their direct reports, for example, has been eroded over time.

I agree with the Tribunal’s view that the proposed increases should not flow into pay rises for subordinate officers.

I strongly support the need to increase the remuneration of Secretaries relative to other members of the SES to better reflect the additional responsibilities that Secretaries bear, and welcome the tribunal’s proposals.

For further information please contact:

Owen Livermore, Group Manager, Employment Policy, at owen.livermore [at] apsc.gov.au, or on 02 6202 3808.

*  There are five SSOs: the Auditor-General, CEO of Customs and Border Protection, Australian Statistician, Commissioner of Taxation and Chief of the Australian Defence Force.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018