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Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal



Role of the Tribunal

The functions and powers of the Tribunal are set out in section 58H of the Defence Act 1903.  The Tribunal inquires into and determines pay and pay related allowances for the Regular and Reserve members of the Australian Defence Force.


A two yearly review is required pursuant to the Act, which traditionally sets the timeframe of the rolling review of ADF salaries and allowances.


In addition the Tribunal is required to inquire into and make determinations in respect of prescribed matters which have been referred to it in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Members of the Tribunal

The Tribunal consists of three members:


  • The President a presidential member of Fair Work Australia,
  • Member a person experienced in industrial relations matters, and
  • Member a person who has been a member of the ADF.


The Members are appointed by the Governor General to serve on a part-time basis for a period of up to five years, and are eligible for re-appointment beyond one term.

Parties before the Tribunal

There are two primary parties in all matters before the Tribunal, ie the Defence Force acting on behalf of the members of the Defence Force and the Commonwealth acting as the respondent.  The Commonwealth is the nominal employer for ADF members.


The Defence Force Advocate (DFA) is appointed on a part-time basis by the Minister for Defence acting on recommendation by the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF).


The functions of the DFA are to:

  • advise the CDF in relation to all matters referred to the DFRT;
  • prepares submissions on these matters; and
  • represents the ADF in the associated proceedings.


The DFA is supported by the Directorate of Military Salaries and Allowances - Policy (DMSA-P) which administers, researches and develops all industrial matters, and which provides the assistant (junior counsel) to the DFA for all matters for consideration by the DFRT.  Matters for consideration by the Tribunal may be initiated by any of the three Services, however carriage of all such matters is through the industrial section.


Commonwealth Advocate is a representative from the Australian Public Service Commission


Interveners.  Where the Tribunal thinks that a person or body should be heard in relation to a matter that is being, or is to be considered, the Tribunal may permit the person or body to be present.  Interveners may appear and make submissions, but must seek leave to appear before proceedings start.  Since provisions were established in 1991 to allow for interveners to appear, leave to appear has never been refused.  The Returned and Services League of Australia is an example of an intervener.

Tribunal Business

The Tribunal may regulate the conduct of its proceedings as it thinks fit and is not bound to act in a formal manner.  The Tribunal may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks fit and is not bound by the rules of evidence.  Normal Tribunal business includes:


  • Salary and allowance case inspections.  Case inspections provide an opportunity for the ADF to advocate for the case by focussing the DFRT on the relevant evidence and making elements of the case clear through a visual demonstration.  This gives the Tribunal an understanding of the military environment that is relevant to the case.


  • Receiving ADF reports on the implementation of DFRT determinations.  The DFRT monitors the implementation of its decisions in the form of a report back in a designated time period directed by the DFRT.


  • Familiarisation visits to ADF establishments.  Visits enable the DFRT to inform itself about the ADF and to gain a better understanding of the nature of military employment.  The Tribunal usually conducts 2 familiarisation visits a year, which are in addition to specific case inspections.


The visits are considered to be highly beneficial for both the DFRT and the ADF.  Importantly they provide ADF members with the opportunity to raise remuneration issues with their independent pay fixing Tribunal.  There may be occasions where information gained in the course of these visits may cause the Tribunal to request that the ADF bring forward a particular matter for its consideration.  The Tribunal is accompanied on the visits by staff from DMSA-P.


  • Fireside chats and/or attendance at COSC for endorsement of a case by the Senior Leadership Group.


  • Focus Groups where consultation with ADF members on a particular matter is appropriate or necessary.

Activity Program

The DFRT activity (case) program is developed in consultation between DMSA-P, the Services, the Australian Public Service Commission, and the Tribunal.  It is a rolling schedule that is normally prepared 12-18 months in advance and approved at programming conferences that are held regularly by the Tribunal.


The cases that are scheduled for Tribunal hearing usually reflect the agreed priorities of the DFRT, the ADF and the Services.  The processes by which cases are identified and priorities are assigned are principally:


  • the 2-yearly review of pay-related allowances;


  • the Employment Category Remuneration Review Committee


  • the ADF Workplace Remuneration Arrangement and Senior Officer Remuneration Arrangement;


  • DFRT consideration of ADF reports on the implementation of Tribunal determinations; and


  • DFRT direction related to pay and allowance matters.

Key Information

        Case program

        Further information ‑ DMSA-P


Content Manager

Last Updated: 6 December 2012