What Is Remuneration?


Moradian v MIMIA [2004] FCA 1590 (6.12.04) concerned the interpretation of ‘remuneration’ for skilled visas purposes. Here the applicant was employed by the the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa. The case concerned whether the applicant was a ‘volunteer’ and whether certain allowances and payments received amounted to ‘remuneration’.  In the end the case was decided on a natural justice point but Gray J made some pertinent observations about ‘remuneration’:

46 Counsel for the Minister sought to argue that, even if the Minister’s delegate had had available all of the information which Mr M could have supplied about the payments and other benefits he received from the Bahá’í World Centre, the Minister’s delegate could not have found that there was remuneration involved. Counsel.. relied on  Austin v AGP, a decision of Snr DP Watson of the Aust Industrial Relations Commission on 17.7.98, (Print No. Q3793). The question… was whether an employee’s remuneration exceeded the maximum amount beyond which he could not proceed in the Commission in respect of the termination of his employment. The crucial element was an allowance paid to the employee for business usage of his private vehicle. As the amount paid only partly reimbursed the employee for the cost of providing his vehicle for business purposes.. DP Watson found… the allowance was for reimbursement of expenses and did not form part of the employee’s remuneration. Such a decision forms no adequate basis for the argument that the provision of free housing, health care, and housekeeping expenses including food, together with a ‘general allowance’, a clothing allowance and a travel allowance could not amount to remuneration. If the Minister’s delegate had been in possession of the information as to what Mr M received, the conclusion certainly could, and probably should, have been.. he was receiving remuneration from the Bahá’í World Centre.

The upshot of Gray J’s comments are that remuneration can come in varying forms and the definition of ‘remuneration’ is not straightjacketed by applying a technical approach.

Moradian v MIMIA also contains a very valuable interpretation of what rules of natural justice not apply at the primary level of decision making and this is set out elsewhere in this journal under the heading of natural justice.

Barbara Davidson