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AGAINST – Documents - Australian Broadcasting Commission - Reveal high remuneration rates

The majority voted against a motion introduced by Tasmanian Senator Wendy Askew (Liberal) on behalf of Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson (Liberal), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) at the estimates hearing of the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee (Committee) on 8 November 2022, the Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) was asked to provide information relating to the remuneration of highly paid ABC staff,

(ii) the Managing Director made a claim of public interest immunity in relation to the information, with reference to staff privacy, work health and safety, the statutory independence and role of the ABC and the commercial interests of the ABC, and

(iii) there has also been correspondence and Clerk's advice in relation to this matter, which has been published on the Committee's webpages, including information that the Committee has upheld the claim of public interest immunity, noting that not all members of the Committee supported the acceptance of the claim of public interest immunity;

(b) rejects the claim of public interest immunity made by the Managing Director, noting that:

(i) as a statutory authority, the ABC is accountable to the Senate for its expenditure of public funds,

(ii) the Privacy Act 1988 does not restrict the disclosure of the requested information to the Parliament,

(iii) the commercial interests of the ABC in not disclosing this information are outweighed by the acute public interest in disclosure,

(iv) work health and safety and the statutory independence and role of the ABC are not recognised as grounds on which to make a claim of public interest immunity,

(v) in 2017, the Committee determined it was in the public interest to publish details of executive remuneration at Australia Post,

(vi) it must be established that some specific harm may occur because of the disclosure of the information sought,

(vii) the ABC has not offered to disclose the information sought in more general terms,

(viii) reflecting the need for greater transparency, since 2016 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been required by law to disclose the annual pay of staff earning more than £150,000, which exposed discriminatory wage practices and led to a landmark gender pay inequality case resulting in the BBC apologising and paying compensation for underpaying a former BBC employee, (See 'The ABC of gender pay parity: no transparency leaves women powerless', published 22 November 2022), and

(ix) the public interest in the Senate being able to effectively scrutinise the expenditure of the ABC through the provision of the requested information outweighs any other impact that release of the information may have; and

(c) orders that there be laid on the table by the Managing Director of the ABC, by no later than midday on Friday, 9 December 2022, the following information relating to the remuneration of highly-paid ABC staff for this financial year and the previous financial year:

(i) the name and title of each ABC employee, contractor, subcontractor or other worker who has or is being paid total remuneration (as defined in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 that is equal to or greater than $230,000 per annum (highly paid staff), and

(ii) the amount of total remuneration per annum paid to each highly paid staff including a breakdown of this remuneration into the following categories:

(A) base salary,

(B) performance pay and bonuses,

(C) other benefits and allowances (including overtime),

(D) employer superannuation contributions,

(E) long-service leave,

(F) other long-term benefits, and

(G) termination benefits.


Date and time: 3:47 PM on 2022-11-30
Senator Pocock's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 31
Total number of "no" votes: 35
Total number of abstentions: 10

Adapted from information made available by