Group Certificates/PAYG payment summaries of CSIRO’s SES staff - FY2013/14, FY2014/15 and FY2015/16

Name withheld made this Freedom of Information request to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

The request was successful.

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO),

The following is an application the purposes of the FOI Act.

I am conducting research, across a range of Government agencies, into the Government's enterprise bargaining framework for the Commonwealth Public Service. Specifically, in the interests of equity and transparency, whether the Government's policy to reduce the living standards of rank and file public servants (that is, public servants who are not considered senior executive service staff ('SES')) also extends to SES public servants.

Accordingly, I request documents which detail the precise monies paid to each of the CSIRO's SES officers in the following financial years - FY2013/14, FY 2014/15 and FY2015/16. The group certificates/end-of-year PAYG payments summaries issued by CSIRO to each of its SES staff in those years can be quickly and easily identified and retrieved, and will efficiently and accurately provide the information the subject of my request.

I am willing to agree to the decision maker redacting information relating to the tax file numbers, the home addresses and information relating to the amount of tax withheld for each of the relevant SES officers that may be contained in the relevant documents. I am willing to further narrow the scope of my request by limiting it to officers employed by the CSIRO who, at the time of my application, were categorised as SES officers, meaning that:
- CSIRO staff who were once SES officers at CSIRO, but weren’t categorised as such at the time of this application; and
- the documents the subject of my request that pertain to SES officers who are no longer employed by CSIRO,
are discounted from the scope of my application.

I make the following submissions in support of my application.

The precise remuneration paid to public servants for performing public duties is a matter of wide and countervailing public interest. That is established by authority including that set out in Re Ricketson and Royal Women’s Hospital (1989) 4 VAR 10; Re Forbes and Department of Premier & Cabinet (1993) 6 VAR 53; Re Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) 1 QAR 227; Re Thwaites and Metropolitan Ambulance Service (unreported, 13 June 1997); Re Milthorpe and Mt. Alexander Shire Council (1997) 12 VAR 105; Re National Tertiary Education Industry Union (Murdoch Branch) and Murdoch University; Ors [2001] WAICmr 1 and Asher and Department of State and Regional Development [2002] VCAT 609.

In Re Forbes, Deputy President Ball said (at page 60):
"Mr Baxter is a senior public servant performing very significant public functions and being paid wholly from money provided by the public. The public is entitled to know precisely how much of its money is received in salary and entitlements by senior public servants for performing functions on behalf of the public."

In Re Stewart, at pp.257-258, the Information Commissioner observed:
"It has been held […] that there is a general public interest in seeing how the taxpayers' money is spent which is sufficient to justify the disclosure of the gross income payable from the public purse to the holder of a public office. […] see [Re Ricketson and Royal Women's Hospital (1989) 4 VAR 10, and Re Forbes and Department of the Premier and Cabinet (1993) 6 VAR 53]."

In Re National Tertiary Education Industry Union, the Commissioner observed (at [68]):
"I recognise that there is a public interest in the public receiving value for its money spent on public education, especially in the present climate of financial restrictions. I agree with the Tribunal in Re Ricketson and Re Forbes that the public is entitled to know how much of its money is received in salary and entitlements by senior public officers for performing functions on behalf of the public and that such information is the subject of legitimate public interest and discussion."

In Asher, Deputy President McNamara stated:
"The total remuneration paid to senior public officers has been, and continues to be, a matter of public concern and public debate. The authorities referred to above indicate the fact that the taxpayers ultimately meet the remuneration gives them a legitimate interest in this matter, even although it is one that it is clearly a matter relative to the personal affairs to the officers themselves. As Mr Edwards notes, his actions as Secretary must ultimately be regulated by the law which must take precedence over any government policy, or one might say any private assurance that he might give to a particular officer. The existence of authorities such as Forbes and Milthorpe indicates that conformably with the Freedom of Information Act no officer, certainly no senior officer, could legally obtain an absolute guarantee of confidentiality of his or her total remuneration package figure without some special enabling legislation."

An additional wide public interest aspect that relates to my application is that employment relations (including the regulation of pay and conditions) in the public sector are widely considered to serve as a role model for industrial relations in the private sector (see, for example, Creighton B and Forsyth R [Eds.] Rediscovering Collective Bargaining, 2012 at pp.184-185). That is, the way in which a government treats its staff (public servants) can be considered emblematic of the way in which a government considers employees across the broader workforce should be treated by their employers. The current Commonwealth Government has an employment relations policy in place (known as the ‘Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework’) which necessarily involves reducing the living standards of rank and file (non-SES) public servants. Senior management at CSIRO has decided, at its discretion, to adopt and enforce, against its rank and file staff, the Government’s employment relations policy. Part of the purpose of my application is to determine whether the Government’s policy to reduce the living standards of rank and file public servants also extends to SES public servants. The documents the subject of my request will shed some light on that issue. It is immutably in the public interest of APS rank and file employees and their families, but also Australian taxpayers and working Australians more generally, to know whether it is the current Government’s view that rank and file employees who are not categorised as senior executives (or equivalent) are generally overpaid, and should therefore have their living standards reduced by their employers, while senior executives (or their equivalents) are generally underpaid and should have their living standards increased. Such an insight will augment the public’s knowledge of the Government’s existing policies concerning the distribution of wealth among Australian society including the Government’s policy to reduce the level of penalty rates paid to some of the lowest paid members of the Australian workforce while simultaneously reducing company taxation rates.

Thank you.

[name not required to be provided under the FOI Act]

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth), I note, CSIRO Officers are not part of the Australian Public Service (APS), the Australian Public Service Act 1999 (Cth) provisions do not apply.

CSIRO does not apply the levels of the APS to delineate responsibility and delegation levels, as such we do not have any SES level staff.

However, CSIRO does have an Executive Team comprising sector leaders, as well as the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Executive.

Are you seeking the salaries of the Executive Team? Or a broader range of CSIRO Officer's salaries?

CSIRO will begin processing your request as soon as your respond confirming the documents you are seeking.

Kind regards,

Beth Maloney
Legal Counsel, CSIRO

Phone: +612 6276 6436 | [mobile number]
[email address] | www.csiro.au
Address: CSIRO Corporate Centre
PO Box 225
DICKSON ACT 2602 Australia  

Please note: I am in the office on Monday,Thursday and Friday.
PLEASE NOTE
The information contained in this email may be confidential or privileged. Any unauthorised use or disclosure is prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please delete it immediately and notify the sender by return email. Thank you. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO does not represent, warrant and/or guarantee that the integrity of this communication has been maintained or that the communication is free of errors, virus, interception or interference.
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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Many thanks for that useful information Ms Maloney.

I’d like to withdraw my initial request but I have another request to make (under the FOI Act) in its place, as follows.

Noting your advice that CSIRO staff are not employed under the Public Service Act 1999, I now seek information that explains why the CSIRO’s executive team, despite not being required to adopt the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015 for APS staff (http://www.apsc.gov.au/priorities/workpl..., decided to adopt and enforce that policy against rank and file CSIRO staff (in its attempts to negotiate an enterprise agreement), while at the same time awarding themselves pay increases that do not conform with the APS Executive Remuneration Policy which applies to all senior executives employed under the Public Service Act 1999.
That decision has led to an outcome where CSIRO executives have enjoyed remuneration increases of 30% over three years, while the salaries of rank and file CSIRO staff (like you) have been frozen. See here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/hea...

Accordingly, I request access to documents held by the CSIRO which concern whether:
i) the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy applies to the CSIRO;
ii) the CSIRO is bound by the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy; and
iii) notwithstanding that the Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy may not apply to, or may not bind, the CSIRO, the CSIRO is implementing that policy nonetheless.

Thank you.

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation


Attachment Acknowledgement of Request.pdf
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Dear Sir/Madam

Please refer to the attached correspondence acknowledging receipt of your Freedom of Information request.

Kind regards

Karen Robinson
Legal Administrative Officer (FOI), CSIRO
Phone: +61 2 6276 6431
[email address] | www.csiro.au
Postal Address: GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
My working hours are 9.30am to 3:00pm Monday to Thursday

PLEASE NOTE
The information contained in this email may be confidential or privileged. Any unauthorised use or disclosure is prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please delete it immediately and notify the sender by return email. Thank you. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO does not represent, warrant and/or guarantee that the integrity of this communication has been maintained or that the communication is free of errors, virus, interception or interference.
Please consider the environment before printing this email.

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Dear Sir/Madam,

I refer to your request on 15 June 2017 identified as FOI 2017/15.

I have determined that rather than conduct extensive searches and provide
(and potentially charge for) documents pursuant to the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (Cth), I can release the following information to you
administratively, in response to your request:

On 28 March 2014 the Government announced changes to the Australian
Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy (Policy). The Policy
replaced the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework (AGEBF)
and applied to the Australian Public Service (APS) and non-APS Australian
Government agencies. On 15 July 2014 the (then) Minister for Industry, The
Hon Ian McFarlane MP, directed the CSIRO Board, pursuant to s 13 of the
Science Industrial and Research Act 1949 (Cth) to apply the new Policy.

I hope this information satisfies your request.

 

Please do contact me, should you have any questions, or wish to discuss.

Kind regards,

Beth Maloney
Legal Counsel, CSIRO

Phone: +612 6276 6436
[1][email address] | [2]www.csiro.au
Address: CSIRO Corporate Centre
PO Box 225
DICKSON ACT 2602 Australia  

Please note: I am in the office on Monday,Thursday and Friday.

PLEASE NOTE
The information contained in this email may be confidential or privileged.
Any unauthorised use or disclosure is prohibited. If you have received
this email in error, please delete it immediately and notify the sender by
return email. Thank you. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO does not
represent, warrant and/or guarantee that the integrity of this
communication has been maintained or that the communication is free of
errors, virus, interception or interference.

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

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