Senate debates

Wednesday, 30 November 2022


Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Order for the Production of Documents

3:50 pm

Photo of Wendy AskewWendy Askew (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Henderson, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) at the estimates 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 roles, gender, place of work and remuneration bands for ABC employees,

(ii) the Managing Director of the ABC made a claim of public interest immunity in relation to the information, with reference to staff privacy and work health and safety, and the statutory independence and 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) the Privacy Act 1988 does not restrict the disclosure of the requested information to the Parliament,

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

(iii) there is an acute public interest in transparency about the role, gender, place of work and remuneration band of ABC employees as well as how various departments, divisions, programs and offices are resourced, particularly with regards to gender pay equality and the adequacy of funding for ABC offices in regional Australia,

(iv) the ABC has not been requested to identify any person and the salary information requested is confined to a broad salary band in $40,000 increments, and

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

(c) orders that there be laid on the table by the Managing Director of the ABC by midday on Friday, 9 December 2022 tabulated information in relation to each current ABC employee:

(i) position title or job description, categorised into departments, divisions, programs, offices or other applicable working groups,

(ii) for the purposes of subparagraph (i):

(A) if a department includes multiple programs or divisions, each separate program or division must be specified, and

(B) if an ABC employee works across multiple programs, division, offices, or other applicable working groups-the name of the entity to which the employer is currently assigned should be provided; and

(iii) gender (where such information is available), place of employment, and total remuneration per annum (as defined in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014), provided in terms of salary bands, starting at $00.00-$40,000, and increasing in increments of $40,000.

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that general business notice of motion No. 112, standing in the name of Senator Henderson and moved by Senator Askew, be agreed to.