Remuneration of the OAIC's key management personnel
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From: Name withheld
Dear Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,
I refer to the Independent Review into the operation of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and Rule (the Review) conducted by Elizabeth Alexander AM and David Thodey AO. Specifically, the findings and recommendations contained in the final report (available at: https://www.finance.gov.au/pgpa-independ... at page 48 onwards as follows:
“The Parliament and citizens have a strong interest in the proper use and management of public resources, from which Commonwealth executive remuneration is funded. There are high expectations around the timely and adequate disclosure of executive remuneration by Australian Securities Exchange listed companies. The remuneration reporting requirements for these companies are established by the Corporations Act 2001. Disclosure of executive remuneration should be at least as important in the public sector, where high transparency standards are expected.
In May 2017, the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Martin Parkinson, wrote to portfolio secretaries, asking them and their portfolio entities to publish information on executive remuneration on their websites on a voluntary basis and in a manner consistent with reporting arrangements prior to the 2015 Financial Reporting Rule. Only half of the entities covered by this request did so within the requested deadline, leading to a joint request in September 2017 from the secretaries of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance (Finance). A further joint request was made in August 2018. A number of entities have still not complied with these requests.
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit has made clear that disclosure of senior executive remuneration should be a formal requirement that is reflected in legislation, not optional by request.
There is no reason to report Commonwealth executive remuneration arrangements in multiple formats and locations. This hardly helps transparency and accountability. We believe that the remuneration of key management personnel in all entities should be disclosed in entity annual reports to at least the same level of transparency that applies to Australian Securities Exchange listed companies. This would require disclosure of the remuneration, including allowances and bonuses, of accountable authorities and their key management personnel, individually, on an accrual basis.
Accountable authorities should disclose executive remuneration in annual reports on the following basis, as shown in Appendix C to this report:
(a) the individual remuneration (including allowances and bonuses) of accountable authorities and their key management personnel on an accrual basis, in line with the disclosure by Australian Securities Exchange listed companies”
The wide public interest in the precise remuneration of senior public servants as referred to in the Review above has been uniformly reinforced by tribunals with jurisdiction to consider FOI matters. Those tribunals have consistently found that the precise remuneration paid to senior public servants for performing public duties is a matter of wide and countervailing public interest and that the public is entitled to know precisely how much of its money is received in salary andentitlements by senior public servants for performing functions on behalf of the public – see 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  WAICmr 1 and Asher and Department of State and Regional Development  VCAT 609.
The public interest in the precise quantum of public monies used to fund senior executive public servant salaries (as referenced above) is also highlighted by articles such as these: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politic... and http://www.afr.com/news/policy/industria...
which make for particularly demoralising reading for non-SES public servants who, at the hands of this Government and their senior executive leaders, have suffered massive reductions in their standards of living, apparently so that the APS’ SES cohort can lavish upon themselves massive increases in their standards of living (with 12%-14% annual wage increases), thereby happily giving effect to the IPA’s/LNP’s policies of redistributing wealth away from everyone but the wealthy, to the wealthy, and manfiesting SES’ personal commitment to trickle down economics.
The precise quantum of public monies used to fund senior executive public servant salaries is not only of wide interest to all rank and file Commonwealth public servants (approximately 155,000) and their families who have had their standards of living reduced by this Government, but also of wide public interest to the Australian workforce more generally because, as numerous academic texts acknowledge, 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 CollectiveBargaining, 2012 at pp.184-185). That is, the way in which a government treats its staff can be considered emblematic of the way in which a government considers employees across the broader workforce should be treated by their employers. So much is confirmed by Economist and director of the Centre for Future Work, Dr Jim Stanford, who said that government wage caps have the consequence of suppressing wage increases across the whole economy, not just for government workers - “the statistical evidence is clear that after the state government imposed that cap wages in the private sector fell quickly to the same level,” he said. “We think what is happening is private sector employers are taking their cue from this government benchmark.” (https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/labo....
The same was confirmed when the Minister for the Public Service let the cat out of bag by saying that the deliberate reduction in the living standards of rank and file public servants is a “deliberate design feature” of this Government’s economic policy (https://twitter.com/SkyNewsAust/status/1... . In other words, this Government wants to suppress and otherwise reduce the living standards of ordinary workers so as to dramatically increase the real wages of their mates, senior executives and their equivalents.
The current Commonwealth Government has an employment relations policy in place that has necessarily resulted in a substantial reduction in the living standards of rank and file public servants. At the same time, under the Government’s watch, wage growth for rank and file workers in both the private and public sectors is now at record lows and inequality is at a 70 year high, while corporate profits and executive salaries have surged.
Under the FOI Act, I seek access to the information that the Review found there to be a clear public interest in, and that it recommended be precisely and publicly reported. Specifically, I seek access to the names and associated remuneration of OAIC’s key management personnel for the 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years. For the purpose of my request, the OAIC’s management personnel constitute OAIC staff who are/were categorised as SES in the relevant periods.
The information I seek access to might exist in contracts, s.24 Public Service Act determinations or perhaps a document under s.17 of the FOI Act. Alternatively, I’m happy for this request to be satisfied by the OAIC’s provision of the Group Certificates/PAYG summaries of OAIC’s SES staff with all information redacted with the exception of the relevant person’s first name and last name, the period of payment, and the gross payment amount.
In processing this request, I remind the OAIC of its Corporate Plan Activity 2.1 – “Develop the FOI capabilities of Australian Government agencies and ministers, and promote FOI best practice “
a public servant
From: Amanda Nowland
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Our reference: FOIREQ19/00067
Freedom of Information request
I refer to your request for access to documents made under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act) and received by the Office of the
Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on 15 March 2019.
Scope of your request
In your email you seek access to the following:
Under the FOI Act, I seek access to the information that the Review found
there to be a clear public interest in, and that it recommended be
precisely and publicly reported. Specifically, I seek access to the names
and associated remuneration of OAIC’s key management personnel for the
2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years. For the purpose of my
request, the OAIC’s management personnel constitute OAIC staff who
are/were categorised as SES in the relevant periods.
Timeframes for dealing with your request
Section 15 of the FOI Act requires this office to process your request no
later than 30 days after the day we receive it. However, section 15(6) of
the FOI Act allows us a further 30 days in situations where we need to
consult with third parties about certain information, such as business
documents or documents affecting their personal privacy.
As we received your request on 15 March 2019, we must process your request
by 15 April 2019.
Documents released under the FOI Act may be published online on our
disclosure log, unless they contain personal or business information that
would be unreasonable to publish.
If you would like to discuss this matter please contact me on my contact
details set out below.
O A I C logo Amanda Nowland | Senior
Office of the Australian
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001 |
+61 2 9284 9646 |
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