Numbers of Ministerial Staff in Australia – As at April 2018

Numbers of Ministerial staff drawn from the most recent, most authoritative source publicly available

Numbers reflect what is reported as ministerial staff in each jurisdiction: so if personal support staff, such as administrative assistants or drivers, have been reported, these are included in the figures).

  • Number of Ministers and Office Holders are those numbers reported against staff numbers, where available.
  • Victoria does not have a regular reporting regime for ministerial staff numbers, so I’m still reliant on the numbers in a 2015 FOI return
  • NSW last reported its figures in June 2017, failing to report the figures at 30 December 2017.
  • Northern Territory has a global budget for Executive Support, with 295 employees, but does not have a breakdown to the numbers of personal staff provided to support Ministers.
  • Shout out to Tasmania, which provides staffing numbers regularly and in the clearest format.

Continue reading “Numbers of Ministerial Staff in Australia – As at April 2018”

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Philip Ruddock on $1440 a day to inquire into freedom of religion

[Updated on 27 February 2018 to incorporate material canvassed at Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee Estimates on the evening of 26 February]

Philip Ruddock, Chair of the Federal Government’s Panel on Religious Freedom, is being paid $1440 a day for the role, according to documents tabled this week on behalf of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).

The rate is equal to the highest daily fee paid to holders of part time office, and is well in excess of the daily fee paid to such office holders as the chairs of the Administrative Law Council, Family Law Council and National Mental Health Commission.

Ruddock, entitled to a Parliamentary pension estimated to be worth $215,000 a year, also attracts a mayoral allowance of $65,230 in his capacity as Mayor of Hornsby, after his election to that position in September 2017.

On being appointed to the religious freedom role, Ruddock reportedly told Sky News that “he did not know if he was getting paid for the role and he was not interested in the money.” Continue reading “Philip Ruddock on $1440 a day to inquire into freedom of religion”

Choosing an Ombudsman: Revelations from the 1987 NSW Cabinet Papers

The choice for New South Wales’ Ombudsman in 1987 came down to a senior Departmental head and a solicitor with a familiar name in Labor circles; the latter promising a less contested relationship between the government and the Ombudsman’s Office after years of strife between the two.

Cabinet papers for the NSW Government, recently released under the “30 year rule” still applicable in NSW, offer an insight into the appointment of David Landa as NSW’s third Ombudsman.

While the selection panel narrowed the eventual choice to Landa, a prominent solicitor with strong Labor connections, and Trevor Haines, the then Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, an impressive shortlist was interviewed, with gender and (relative) youth no bar to inclusion.

However, reducing the eventual choice to Landa and Haines seemingly reflected a desire to create a more harmonious relationship between government and watchdog than existed during the term of George Masterman, QC, who held the post between 1981 and 1987. Continue reading “Choosing an Ombudsman: Revelations from the 1987 NSW Cabinet Papers”

Are They On? Has the AEC got it wrong on 16 and 17 year olds being entitled to a say in marriage equality survey?

Update: 17 August 2017  – Without conceding the argument, yesterday the Minister for Finance issued a statement and amended direction. For abundance of clarity and avoidance of doubt, the amended direction limits the postal survey to those 18 years and over at the end of 24 August.

The statement and direction followed the validation of the arguments put forward in this piece by a range of respected constitutional and electoral law academics.

 

The question of whether 16 and 17 year olds were entitled to be included in the ABS marriage equality postal survey was raised in this blog, and on Twitter, most significantly by Chris Gentle

On Friday afternoon, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) issued a statement to dismiss this possibility. Continue reading “Are They On? Has the AEC got it wrong on 16 and 17 year olds being entitled to a say in marriage equality survey?”

Forty Year Ombudsman Tradition Trashed by Turnbull

Yesterday’s announcement that the vacant role of Commonwealth Ombudsman would be filled by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), Michael Manthorpe, brings to an end a forty year bipartisan tradition of appointments not being directly made from the ranks of frontline departmental management.

While the post was reportedly offered to several departmental heads in the early years of the Hawke Government, every previous appointee since the establishment of the Office in 1977 has held a post in academia, consumer advocacy, legal or judicial administration, or oversight and complaints handling immediately prior to appointment. Continue reading “Forty Year Ombudsman Tradition Trashed by Turnbull”

1999 Referendum Campaign: How Was the Yes/No Case Money Spent?

There are reports that the Government will allocate $7.5 million to each of the “yes” and “no” cases in a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, should such a proposal come to pass. This matches in dollar terms the amounts allocated to the respective cases in the 1999 referendum on a republic, but to replicate the value of the 1999 campaign funds in 2016 terms would require $11.9 million for each side. Or put another way, the amount is equivalent to giving the respective cases $4.73 million each in 1999. Continue reading “1999 Referendum Campaign: How Was the Yes/No Case Money Spent?”

Search and Seizure and Parliamentary Privilege

The Parliamentary Privilege questions enlivened by the series of raids on Senator Stephen Conroy’s office, the home of an adviser and the server maintained by the Department of Parliamentary Services, arising from the Australian Federal Police’s investigation into the leak of NBN documents brings to a head a series of questions raised across a number of legislatures in Australia, the UK and the US in the past twenty years.

On the matter being raised in the Senate yesterday, a background paper from the Clerk of the Senate, Dr Rosemary Laing was tabled. It indicates that she is not satisfied with the processes used by the Senate until now to deal with disputes over privilege between Senators and law enforcement. Continue reading “Search and Seizure and Parliamentary Privilege”

The $5 Million “Software Subsidy” for Major Parties – And It’s Only Going To Get Bigger

Since 1996, an allowance has seen over $5.6 million in taxpayer funds made available to Federal Members of Parliament for “software reimbursement”, with members of the major parties directed to claim this allowance against software prescribed by their party.

A decade long cap on the allowance of $1500 per year has now been removed, thereby exposing taxpayers to greater charges by parties and reimbursement claims by MPs. Continue reading “The $5 Million “Software Subsidy” for Major Parties – And It’s Only Going To Get Bigger”

“A Large, Extremely Hungry and Undoubtedly Treacherous Hound”: Malcolm Turnbull on State Income Taxes … in 1976

It’s often embarrassing to be right, but I blush not over my correct analysis… it is nothing more than a cunning attempt to offload millions of dollars worth of government expenditure back on to the states without giving them any means – other than posing an income tax – of raising the revenue needed.

[The Premier] claims he was sold a pup. Not so. He has been given a large, extremely hungry and undoubtedly treacherous hound.

No, not a comment about Malcolm Turnbull’s plans to give the states the opportunity to raise revenue to pay for services.

That’s a comment BY Malcolm Turnbull – in 1976 – the last time a Prime Minister tried to devolve revenue raising by means of state based income taxes. Continue reading ““A Large, Extremely Hungry and Undoubtedly Treacherous Hound”: Malcolm Turnbull on State Income Taxes … in 1976″