BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers is the nation's highest-paid chief executive, earning $11.8 million last year, research finds.
But this was well down on 2010's champion earner, the then chief executive of Commonwealth Bank, Ralph Norris, who received $16.16 million.
PHOTOS: Australia's top-earning CEOs
The research, by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), found the chief executives of nation's listed companies received smaller cash payments in 2011.
But their overall pay was steady after the rewards of shares and options were taken into account, ACSI found.
Average reported pay for chief executives in the top 100 companies fell to $4.725 million in 2011, from $4.991 million.
ACSI said the average cash payment for chief executives of the top 100 companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), including bonuses, fell 8.9 per cent to $3.055 million, compared to 2010.
Reflecting current market conditions and company returns to shareholders, average bonuses in 2011 fell to $1.255 million from $1.584 million - their lowest level since 2004 - but around 90 per cent of chief executives still received a bonus.
"It is clear that directors began listening to shareholder views on bonus sizes during 2011 and began making the adjustments that have continued into the first part of 2012," ACSI chief executive Ann Byrne said in a statement.
Ms Byrne said that once the actual value of vested shares and options exercised by executives during the year was taken into account, the average value of reported pay was little changed.
The average reported pay for chief executives in ASX companies ranked 101 to 200 was $1.7 million in 2011.
Here is a list of the top 10 highest paid CEOs in 2011:
Company, CEO, statutory pay, realised pay
BHP Billiton, Marius Kloppers, $11.8m, $17.3m
ANZ, Mike Smith, $10m, $14.7m
CBA, Ralph Norris, $8.6m, $12.6m
Cola-Cola Amatil, Terry Davis, $7.9m, $8.9m
Westpac, Gail Kelly, $9.8m, $8.6m
Rio Tinto, Tom Albanese, $8.3m, $6.6m
Macquarie Bank, Nick Moore, $8.6m, $6.2m
NAB, Cameron Clyne, $8.6m, $5.6m
James Hardie, Louis Gries, $8.1m, $5.2m
Crown, Rowen Craigie, $7.7m, $3.6m
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