Senators and Members’ entitlements are primarily determined by Acts of Parliament and determinations of the Remuneration Tribunal. Copies of a number of these Acts and determinations are available from the Commonwealth of Australia Law website .
The key pieces of legislation determining Senators and Members’ entitlements are:
- Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948;
- Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952;
- Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973;
- Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984;
- Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990;
- Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997;
- Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990;
- Remuneration and Allowances Regulations 2005;
- Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002;
- Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Regulations 2002; and
- Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004.
A brief summary of this legislation follows:
The Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948 established the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme (PCSS). Membership of the PCSS is compulsory for all Senators and Members, who entered Parliament before the general election of 9 October 2004.
The Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952 provides that the allowances determined by the Remuneration Tribunal are payable to Senators and Members. The Act also prescribes the days on which the allowances of Senators and Members commence and cease, and provides a statutory basis for the additional remuneration of certain Parliamentary office‑holders. Note that remuneration for other office-holders is, in the main, dealt with by the Remuneration Tribunal in accordance with the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.
The Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 established the Remuneration Tribunal which, among other things, determines certain entitlements for Senators and Members when they are engaged in Parliamentary, electorate or official business.
The entitlements for Senators and Members currently set by Remuneration Tribunal determinations are:
- electorate allowance;
- travelling allowance for Senators and Members and office-holders;
- travel within Australia by Senators and Members, including by scheduled services, car transport, charter, private-plated vehicles, and privately owned vehicles;
- travel by the spouse or nominee, dependent children and designated persons of a Senator or Member;
- overseas study travel;
- severance benefits and travel after retirement as a Senator or Member (where applicable); and
- home telephone services.
Senators and Members should note that on and from 15 March 2012, there will be no further accrual of entitlement to financial assistance for overseas travel as provided for by Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2006/18: Members of Parliament – Entitlements.1
The Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 provides for the employment of staff, by Senators and Members, on behalf of the Commonwealth.
In addition to this Act, the terms and conditions of employment of staff are determined primarily by:
- determinations made under this Act;
- the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012-2015; and
- the Fair Work Act 2009.
The Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 prescribes certain entitlements for Senators and Members and Parliamentary office-holders, including:
- electorate office accommodation, equipment and office requisites;
- travel overseas by Parliamentary delegations;
- Australian flags and printed items related to national symbols;
- photographic services at Parliament House; and
- travel by special purpose aircraft.
Note, however, that some of these entitlements may be omitted or varied by determinations made by the Remuneration Tribunal.
The Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997 provide details of the additional benefits provided to Members and Parliamentary office-holders under the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990, and legal assistance for Ministers.
The Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990 sets the rates of remuneration and allowances, including additional salary, for certain office-holders, including Senators and Members.
The Remuneration and Allowances Regulations 2005 set the percentage of the reference salary (as determined by the Remuneration Tribunal) for the purposes of setting the annual salary of Senators and Members under the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990.
The Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002 sets out the terms and conditions under which Life Gold Pass holders are eligible for travel at Australian Government expense for non-commercial purposes.
The Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Regulations 2002 defines the phrase ‘exceptional circumstances’ for the purposes of the ‘stop-over’ provisions of the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002.
The Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004 establishes superannuation accumulation arrangements for all Senators and Members entering or re-entering the Federal Parliament on or after the general election of 9 October 2004. Under this Act, Senators and Members have a 15.4 per cent superannuation contribution paid by the Government to a complying superannuation fund (other than a self-managed superannuation fund) or to a Retirement Savings Account of their choice.
1 See Part 10 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2012/04.