An Independent Parliamentary Entitlements System

On 23 March 2016, the Government released the Review Report and recommendations on options for an independent parliamentary entitlements system.

The Government supports all the recommendations in principle and will now commence work on implementation.

Implementation of a number of recommendations will involve further work by the Remuneration Tribunal, which the Government will ask the Tribunal to commence forthwith.

A copy of the review report and recommendations can be accessed below.

Submissions can be viewed on this website.

Review Terms of Refence.

About the Committee Members.

Review Terms of reference

The Government has asked Mr David Tune AO PSM and Mr John Conde AO to co chair a committee to develop and propose models to deliver an independent parliamentary entitlements system.

The Government believes an independent framework should be created to set and monitor parliamentary entitlements so that the system is more transparent and accountable.

The Government acknowledges that the ad hoc and piecemeal reforms adopted by successive governments mean the system is complex, ambiguous and out of step with community expectations.

Rather than another series of changes that merely tinker at the edges of the system, it is time for fundamental reform aimed at inserting independence into the system that sets and monitors the use of parliamentary entitlements.

The objective will be to establish a workable system for authorising potentially contentious expenditure before it has occurred.

Purpose of the review

The committee will provide options for the creation of an independent parliamentary entitlements system.

In developing options for independent oversight, the committee will consider:

  • Reducing ambiguity in what constitutes official business;
  • Providing clarity to members of Parliament and their staff about their entitlements and how to use them appropriately;
  • Improving transparency of the rules and entitlement usage;
  • Acknowledging the role of party business in parliamentary business;
  • How to deal more effectively with alleged misuse of entitlements; and
  • How best to support and enable Members of Parliament to conduct their varied duties within clearly defined rules.

In considering this framework, the committee should also examine whether other senior officials, subject to Remuneration Tribunal determinations on salary and entitlements should also fall under a new independent system.

Approach

The committee will consider and present options to implement an independent parliamentary entitlements system.

In so doing, it will consider the operation and interaction of the current Remuneration Tribunal determinations and relevant Acts, Regulations, Ministerial determinations and Department of Finance rules and guidelines.

It will give due consideration to the diverse nature of Australia’s federal constituencies and the different activities of Members and Senators.

The committee will look at international best practice across comparable parliamentary systems and will call for submissions from interested parties.

This committee will be supported by a Secretariat in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and will provide a report to me in the first half of next year.

About the Committee members

Mr John Conde AO
Committee co-chair

Mr Conde is President of the Remuneration Tribunal. He was appointed originally as a member of the Remuneration Tribunal in June 1998 and President in June 2003. He was reappointed for a further five years from 25 June 2013.

Mr Conde is Chairman of Bupa Australia and New Zealand, Chairman of the McGrath Foundation and Chairman of Cooper Energy Limited. He is Deputy Chairman of Whitehaven Coal Limited and a Director of Dexus Property Group. Positions previously held include Chairman of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Chairman of Ausgrid (formerly EnergyAustralia), Director of BHP Billiton, President of the National Heart Foundation of Australia and member of the Sydney Children's Hospital Network Board.

Mr Conde was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in the 1994 Australia Day honours list in recognition of service to business and commerce, particularly in the field of electricity generation and supply. 

Mr David Tune AO PSM 
Committee co-chair

Mr Tune is a distinguished former public servant who was Secretary of the Department of Finance from 2009 to 2014. Prior to joining Finance, he held senior positions at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and The Treasury. In recognition of his service to public administration, Mr Tune was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in the 2015 Australia Day honours list.

Mr Harry Jenkins AO
Committee member

Mr Jenkins served as the 26th Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2008 to 2011 and was the Federal Member for Scullin from 1986 to 2013. Prior to taking on the Speakership, Mr Jenkins held the positions of Deputy Speaker and Second Deputy Speaker. In recognition of his distinguished service to the Australian Parliament Mr Jenkins was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2014.

The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson AO
Committee member

Dr Nelson is currently Director of the Australian War Memorial and was Australia’s Ambassador to Belgium 2009-2012. Prior to holding these positions, Dr Nelson was the Federal Member for Bradfield for 13 years 1996-2009, including Minister for Defence and Minister for Education, Science and Training in the Howard Government and Leader of the Opposition 2007-2008. Prior to entering into the Parliament, Dr Nelson was a medical practitioner and Federal President of the Australian Medical Association 1993-1995.

In recognition of his distinguished service to the Australian Parliament, to the community, to Australia's international relations, and to major cultural institutions, Dr Nelson was appointed an Officer in the Order or Australia in the 2016 Australia Day honours list.

Ms Linda Nicholls AO
Committee member

Ms Nicholls is a respected business woman and is currently Chairman of Japara Healthcare and is a Director of Medibank and Fairfax Media. Ms Nicholls was Chairman of Australia Post from 1997 to 2006, and has held a range of positions with financial, medical and public sector organisations. Ms Nicholls’ contributions to Australian business and the community were recognised in 2007 with her appointment as an Officer in the Order of Australia.

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