ACT News


Pay rise for territory's key office-holders

The territory's public official paymaster has relaxed its grip on the purse strings after months of reticence, awarding office-holders almost $350,000 in pay rises.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, the Human Rights Commission, magistrates and Supreme Court's Master are the winners in the Remuneration Tribunal's largesse.

The tribunal, in its latest round of determinations in time for Christmas, handed out annual salary increases worth $348,055 to 14 public office-holders.

The raises come after the government warned the ACT was facing ''serious economic challenges'' and any raises for officials should be in line with those of rank-and-file public servants.

In more than a year the tribunal had rarely handed out raises of greater than 3.5 per cent.

Knocking back calls for larger raises in September 2011, it noted the ''uncertain economic climate'' facing Canberra and the re-emergence of global financial desperation.


In the November round, however, it agreed to 7 per cent rises for the bench of the ACT Magistrates Court and the Master of the Supreme Court, as well as a 15 per cent raise for the position of the DPP.

The territory's three human rights commissioners, Helen Watchirs, Alasdair Roy and Mary Durkin, received an extra $27,000 each, taking their salaries to $183,879.

The increases came after the three commissioners said their burgeoning workload and a clear pay gap between them and other officials risked undermining their work.

DPP Jon White has lobbied since at least August last year for the position to be remunerated at the same rate as a Supreme Court judge.

Canberra is the only Australian jurisdiction where the director is not paid the same as a judge. But his calls had fallen on deaf ears until now, after the backing of former DPP and Supreme Court judge Ken Crispin.

The tribunal added $47,000 to the director's annual base salary, taking it to $354,979 - but still about $46,000 short of a judicial pay packet.

Dr Crispin, who described the role as ''seriously undervalued'', earlier this year wrote his own letter to the tribunal.

The now-retired judge, who hung up his robes in 2007, said the role of a director ''can be a lonely one'', and ''indeed, any director who discharges his or her functions with integrity is bound to offend people, including

perhaps members of the Parliament and journalists,'' he wrote.

Canberra magistrates also received about $19,000, taking them to a base salary of $290,958, after complaining about the court's significantly increased workload.

In August Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker wrote to the tribunal urging it to set a ''fair and appropriate'' base salary to address an ''anomalous situation''.

Master David Harper, who retires next year and has predicted difficulties finding a successor on the current pay for the position, received a 7 per cent rise from the Remuneration Tribunal, taking his salary to $331,392.

Members of the territory's parole authority, the Sentence Administration Board, also received raises.

The pay packets of Canberra judges, which are set by the Commonwealth at the same rate as a Federal Court judge, went from $391,140 to $402,880 in July.


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