4.8 Travelling Allowance

4.8 Travelling Allowance

4.8.1 The Provision

Senators and Members may claim travelling allowance as determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.

Travelling allowance is paid by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services and the rates of travelling allowance are reviewed periodically by the Remuneration Tribunal.

Where a claim for travelling allowance is made under the relevant Remuneration Tribunal determination, Senators and Members may not receive reimbursement of travelling expenses for the same overnight stay from any other provision.1

4.8.2 Relevant Definitions and Provisions

For the purpose of travelling allowance, the following definitions apply:

Home Base means the Senator or Member’s principal place of residence. The Senator or Member’s home base must be nominated to the Special Minister of State.

Parliamentary Committee includes committees concerned with public affairs and committees concerned with the domestic affairs of Parliament.

Vice-regal function means a function hosted by the Governor-General (or Administrator on his/her behalf), or a function hosted by a State Governor (or Administrator on his/her behalf).2

A reference to a meeting of a parliamentary political party, of its executive, or one of its committees, and the national conference of a political party, refers only to meetings or conferences which are properly constituted, having been convened by an office-holder of the parliamentary political party or by a person designated by the party as a person who may nominate the venue for such meetings.3

4.8.3 When Travelling Allowance is Payable

Travelling allowance is payable to a Senator or Member for each overnight stay in a place other than his or her home base when the stay occurs primarily because of:

  • sittings of the House of Parliament or direct travel to or from such sittings
  • meetings of, or the formal business of, Parliamentary Committees of which he or she is a member or direct travel to or from such meetings
  • attendance at functions representing a Minister or a Presiding Officer on official business as a Minister or Presiding Officer, or direct travel to or from such functions, provided the Minister or Presiding Officer nominates the function in advance in a written request to the Senator or Member to represent him or her. (Evidence of approval must accompany the travelling allowance claim)
  • meetings in Canberra of his or her parliamentary political party, of its executive, or of its committees, or direct travel to or from such meetings
  • meetings of his or her Parliamentary political party executive outside Canberra or direct travel to or from such meetings
  • meetings, other than in Canberra, of a Parliamentary political party or of its executive, or of its committees, attendance at the national and state conferences of a political party, of which he or she is a member, and meetings outside the electorate on electorate business up to a maximum of 10 overnight stays per annum in total, and direct travel to or from such meetings or conferences
  • attendance at official government, Parliamentary or vice-regal functions
  • meetings of a non-statutory body which a Senator or Member has been nominated to attend by resolution of either House, where the Senator or Member performs duties principally as a representative or alternate representative of the Parliament, or
  • attendance at properly constituted meetings of a Government advisory committee or taskforce provided that the Senator or Member is a member of the committee or taskforce.4

Depending on the purpose of travel, claims for travelling allowance require evidence prior to processing, such as confirmation of attendance at meetings or functions. Ministerial and Parliamentary Services will endeavour to obtain the required evidence from Hansard, information from committee secretaries, etc. To assist with expediting payment, Senators and Members who are claiming travelling allowance for committee business should mark their Travel Declaration form (Form 4) with the name of the committee relevant to the claim. There may be occasions where evidence is unable to be confirmed by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. In these cases, the Senator or Member may be asked to provide further information.

An overnight stay is recorded as the day that the overnight stay commences.

Travel within the House of Representatives electorate which contains the home base of the Senator or Member

Travelling allowance is not payable to a Senator or Member for an overnight stay within the electoral division of the House of Representatives which contains the home base of the Senator or Member except when a Senator or a Member whose home base is in a House of Representatives electorate that is over 100,000 km2 stays overnight within that electorate for travel occasioned primarily by:

  • meetings of or the formal business of parliamentary committees to which he or she is appointed or direct travel to or from such meetings
  • attendance at functions representing a Minister or Presiding Officer on official business as a Minister or Presiding Officer, or direct travel to or from such functions, provided the Minister or Presiding Officer nominates the function in advance in a written request to the Senator or Member to represent him or her, or
  • attendance at properly constituted meetings of a Government advisory committee or taskforce provided that the Senator or Member is a member of the committee or taskforce.5
     
  • Refer to Section 4.8.4 Travel Within Home State, Territory or Electorate

Travel within the electorate

A Senator, or a Member whose electorate is 10,000 km2 or more in area, may claim travelling allowance for overnight stays within their electorate in certain circumstances.6

A Senator or Member from the Australian Capital Territory, or a Member representing an electorate adjacent to the Australian Capital Territory and whose principal place of residence is within a 30 km radius of Parliament House will be paid a daily expense allowance in certain circumstances.7

Certain Senators and Members who visit specified external territories on electorate business may claim travelling allowance for overnight stays up to certain limits.8

4.8.4 Travel Within Home State, Territory or Electorate

A Member whose electorate is 10,000 km2 or more in area, or a Senator, who:

  • travels in his or her electorate (State or Territory for a Senator) on Parliamentary or electorate business
  • stays overnight in a place other than his or her home base
  • makes a claim identifying the places and nights of absence

is eligible for travelling allowance for each overnight stay, subject to the limits set out in the table below.

STATE/TERRITORY/ELECTORATE

OVERNIGHT STAYS PER ANNUM

Senators
Northern Territory 66
Senators, other than those representing the Northern Territory 30
Members
Electorate of 1,000,000 km2 and over 90
Electorate of 100,000 to 999,999 km2 75
Electorate of 20,000 to 99,999 km2 25
Electorate of 10,000 to 19,999 km2 16

A Member representing an electorate of 300,000 km2 or more may claim travelling allowance for up to 30 overnight transit stops at the nearest major transport centre, if they are not able to access their electorate through direct flights from within their electorate. This is not an additional provision to the limits set out in the table above.

4.8.5  Small Electorates that include Distant Areas

A Member representing an electorate of less than 10,000 km2 in area, whose electorate includes islands, other than external territories, or separate regional areas located outside the boundary of, and which are at least 100 km from, the main body of his or her electorate, may access up to a maximum of six overnight stays per annum, for electorate business on those islands or in the separate regional areas.9 This is not an additional provision to the limits set out in the table in section 4.8.4.

On the basis of the Australian Electoral Commission Federal electoral boundaries map, the only electorates that currently meet these conditions are:

  • the electorate of Sydney, which includes Lord Howe Island
  • the electorate of Fraser, which includes the Jervis Bay Territory.

In addition, the Member for Bowman may access up to a maximum of six overnight stays per annum for electorate business on North Stradbroke Island.10

4.8.6  External Territories

For the purposes of the relevant Remuneration Tribunal determinations, Australia’s external territories are:

  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Norfolk Island.11

Travel to these territories at Australian Government expense is subject to certain limitations.

Except for visits to an external territory on electorate business by a Senator or Member representing that external territory any Senator or Member travelling to an external territory will be paid travelling allowance provided that, prior to embarking on the visit, he or she submits to the Special Minister of State a statement in writing setting out fully:

  • that the purpose or purposes of the journey was for Parliamentary Committee business as formally authorised by the Parliamentary Committee
  • the period of the visit and proposed itinerary.12

Certain Senators and Members who Represent External Territories

The Member for Lingiari and Senators for the Northern Territory who visit the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and/or Christmas Island for electorate business will be paid additional travelling allowance up to a maximum of 18 overnight stays per year. 13

The Member for Canberra and Senators for the Australian Capital Territory who visit Norfolk Island for electorate business will be paid additional travelling allowance up to a maximum of 11 overnight stays per year.14

These limits may be extended where prevailing airline schedules prevent the Senator or Member from completing his or her journey within the maximum number of overnight stays.15

The Member for Lingiari or a Senator for the Northern Territory who is required to break his or her journey when travelling to or from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands or Christmas Island on electorate business may be paid travelling allowance for that overnight stay.16

4.8.7  Travel between Western Australia or the Northern Territory and Canberra

A Senator or Member travelling between Western Australia or the Northern Territory and Canberra on Parliamentary business who is required to break a journey may claim travelling allowance for an overnight stay at the location of the break, where the Senator or Member certifies that there was no same-day connecting flight reasonably available.17

4.8.8  Rates of Travelling Allowance

Travelling allowance is paid on the basis of an overnight stay.18  There is no provision for part-day travel.

A Senator or Member may claim travelling allowance for the preceding night at the location of their destination when the scheduled or actual arrival time at their destination is 6:00 am or earlier.19

A Senator or Member whose scheduled or actual arrival time at their destination is after 6.00 am will not be eligible for payment of travelling allowance for the preceding night.20

Locations other than Canberra

For overnight stays in locations other than Canberra, there are two applicable rates: a ‘commercial’ rate and a lower, ‘non‑commercial’ rate.21 

In order to be paid the commercial rate, a receipt for accommodation must be produced or a certification made that a receipt can be produced (and will be produced upon request). If a receipt for the commercial accommodation, or other satisfactory validation of the expense, is not produced within 60 days of it being requested, any travelling allowance paid in respect of the un-receipted accommodation must be repaid.22

Where a member is accommodated in private, non-commercial accommodation such as the home of a family member or friend, a rate of one third of the rate of travelling allowance is payable, rounded upwards to the nearest dollar. 23

Canberra

A flat rate is payable for overnight stays in Canberra, whether a Senator or Member stays in commercial or non-commercial accommodation. The rate for Canberra is payable subject to documentary evidence of arrival in and departure from Canberra being produced upon request. If such evidence is not produced within 60 days of it being requested, any travelling allowance paid in respect of the undocumented period must be repaid.24 Ministerial and Parliamentary Services will conduct a sample check of Senators and Members’ Canberra travelling allowance claims on a regular basis. For audit purposes, documentary evidence of arrival and departure may be requested at any time within five years of the lodgement of a claim for travelling allowance.25 The Special Minister of State has issued Guidelines on Canberra Travelling Allowance Arrangements for Senators and Members 2011, which set out the forms of documentary evidence that will be accepted which are discussed below.

Canberra Travel by Scheduled Commercial Services

Senators and Members who travel to and from Canberra by commercial transport booked through the contracted travel service provider will not be requested to supply documentary evidence of their arrival and departure times in Canberra.26

Canberra Travel by other than Scheduled Commercial Services

Parliament House Log

Senators and Members who travel to or from Canberra on other than a commercial service (for example, by car) should validate their times of arrival in and departure from Canberra by signing a register (the Canberra Location Validation Register) held at the Senate, House of Representatives and Ministerial Wing entrances to Parliament House. The register is open 24 hours a day. A Senator or Member will not be requested to supply documentary evidence if their arrival in/or departure from Canberra is recorded in the Canberra Location Validation Register.27

Parliamentary Records of Attendance at Proceedings and Committee Meetings

These records are sufficient documentary evidence of a Senator or Member’s overnight presence in Canberra, provided there is a record of attendance on the day immediately before and after the overnight stay.28

Other Documentary Evidence

Other documentary evidence of travel to and from Canberra that will validate a Senator or Member’s travelling allowance claim include:

  • a receipt for an overnight stay in commercial accommodation which clearly identifies the Senator or Member’s name, location of the commercial accommodation and date of the overnight stay
  • a copy of a receipt or credit card transaction, for goods or services purchased in Canberra on the day of arrival or departure (for example, petrol), which clearly identifies the Senator or Member’s name, location of the vendor and the date of the transaction; if a name is not printed on the document, a Senator or Member’s signature on the document will be taken as certification that the purchase was made by him or her)
  • a signed statement by an individual attesting to having met the Senator or Member in Canberra on the day of arrival or departure (an email that is sent from an address that clearly identifies the individual will also be sufficient).29

4.8.9 Claiming Travelling Allowance

When claiming travelling allowance, a Senator or Member is required to complete a Travel Declaration form.

Completing a Travel Declaration form

The Travel Declaration form has been divided into two sections. The left‑hand side provides travel details and the right-hand side provides information regarding the travelling allowance claim.

The Travel Declaration form reflects the requirements of the relevant Remuneration Tribunal determinations. Accountable administration of the determinations requires that any claim can be fully supported. This includes verification of travel that has resulted in an overnight stay.

Declarations of travel and claims for travelling allowance must be completed in full and be personally signed (no stamped signatures) by the Senator or Member as a true and accurate record.

A Senator or Member is required to declare that the travel was undertaken in his or her capacity as an elected representative and to acknowledge that a financial loading will be applied if subsequent adjustment to the travel claim is required.

Claims can only be submitted after travel is completed.

A Senator or Member may see advantage in submitting travelling allowance claims as soon as practicable after each trip to minimise the possibility that essential supporting documents may be mislaid, or that the claim will not be paid because it was not submitted within 60 days of travel being completed.

If travelling allowance at commercial rates is claimed, a Senator or Member is required to produce receipts for commercial accommodation, or certify on the form that receipts can be produced (and will be produced upon request).30 For audit purposes, receipts may be requested at any time within five years of the lodgement of the relevant Travel Declaration form. Therefore, it is advisable for a Senator or Member to retain accounting records, receipts and related documentation for five years.  A receipt produced, or retained, for the purposes of supporting travelling allowance payments should be a tax invoice with Australian Business Number (ABN) and inclusive of Goods and Services Tax (GST). For example, confirmation statements from booking agents are not acceptable.

It is preferred that the Travel Declaration form is emailed to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. However if faxed, the facsimile transmission confirmation sheet should be checked to ensure that transmission was successful, and retained with the Senator or Member’s records until payment has been made. It is not necessary to include a cover sheet for the Travel Declaration form when it is faxed. This should ensure that details from the first page of the form appear on the facsimile transmission confirmation sheet, and will provide proof of lodgement, should the faxed copy of the form be misplaced.

Senators and Members may also consider attaching original receipts for commercial accommodation (other than in Canberra) to a Travel Declaration form and submitting the documents by post or hand-delivery, to reduce the requirement to retain documentation for lengthy periods and minimise the need for additional documentation to be sought after the event. Before submitting documents to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services, it is recommended that the entire document be scanned or photocopied, and appropriately stored as a record.

It is recommended that the following details be recorded with the scanned or photocopied document:

  • the date the document was lodged
  • the method of lodgement (that is, by post or hand delivery)
  • the name of the person who lodged the document.

Each month Ministerial and Parliamentary Services undertakes a random check of travelling allowance payments where receipts were not attached to the relevant Travel Declaration form.  Senators and Members who have received those payments may be asked to provide the relevant receipts. If a receipt for the commercial accommodation (or other satisfactory validation of the expense) is not produced within 60 days of it being requested, any travelling allowance paid in respect of the un-receipted accommodation must be repaid.

A set of maps is available which show the approximate boundaries of the areas in which ‘capital city’ rates may be claimed. If there is doubt as to the appropriate zone applying to the location of an overnight stay, contact Ministerial and Parliamentary Services for assistance.

A claim for travelling allowance must be submitted within 60 days from the date the travel is completed. If a Senator or Member is unable to submit a claim within 60 days from the date that the travel is completed, he or she may write to the Special Minister of State, within 60 days from the date the travel is completed, explaining the circumstances and the Special Minister of State, or his or her nominee, may exercise his or her discretion to approve an extension of time in which to submit a claim. If a Senator or Member is unable to submit a claim before the 60 day period has elapsed, and where the Special Minister of State, or his or her nominee, has not approved an extension of time to claim, payment of the claim will not be made.31

Mandatory training is provided for parliamentarians and their offices if more than one incorrect claim is lodged within a financial year.

4.8.10  Daily Expense Allowance: Australian Capital Territory and Adjoining Electorates

A Senator or Member from the Australian Capital Territory, or a member representing an electorate adjacent to the Australian Capital Territory and whose principal place of residence is within a 30 kilometre radius of Parliament House is eligible to be paid a daily expense allowance, at a rate determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, for each day that he or she attends in Canberra:

  • sittings of his or her House of Parliament
  • meetings of his or her parliamentary political party, of its executive or of one of its committees
  • meetings of a Parliamentary Committee of which he or she is a member, or
  • in respect of official business as a Minister or as an office-holder.32
     
  • View IPEA site for access to TA Rates for Senators and Members

If a Senator or Member is unable to submit a claim for daily expense allowance within 60 days from the date that the attendance in Canberra occurred, he or she may write to the Special Minister of State, within 60 days of the attendance, explaining the circumstances and requesting that the Special Minister of State, or his or her nominee, exercise his or her discretion to approve an extension of the period. Where a claim is submitted after the 60 day period has elapsed, and where the Special Minister of State or his or her nominee has not approved an extension of time to claim, payment of the claim will not be made.33

Daily expense allowance can be claimed by completing the Travel Declaration form. The daily expense allowance is subject to PAYG taxation, which is withheld by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services and appears on the Senator or Member’s payment summary provided by the relevant Chamber Department.

Footnotes

1  Clause 3.2 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

2  Clause 1.4 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

3  Clause 1.6.2 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

4  Clause 3.11 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

5  Clause 3.13 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

6  Clause 3.14 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

7  Clause 3.15 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination2016/08.

8  Clauses 3.16 and 3.17 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

9  Clause 3.14.2 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

10 Clause 3.14.3 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

11 See, for example, clause 3.5 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2012/04 and clauses 3.17 – 3.19 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

12 Clause 3.19 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

13 Clause 3.16(a) of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

14 Clause 3.16(b) of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

15 Clause 3.16 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

16 Clause 3.17 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

17 Clause 3.12 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

18 Clause 2.1 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

19 Section 6(3) of Procedural Rule No. 1 of 2005 of 11 July 2005.

20 Section 6(4) of Procedural Rule No. 1 of 2005 of 11 July 2005.

21 Clauses 2.1 and 3.4.of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

22 Clause 3.6 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

23 Clause 3.5 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

24 Clause 3.4 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

25 Clause 4.1 of Guidelines on Canberra Travelling Allowance Arrangements for Senators and Members 2011.

26 Clause 3.1 of Guidelines on Canberra Travelling Allowance Arrangements for Senators and Members 2011.

27 Clause 3.2 of Guidelines on Canberra Travelling Allowance Arrangements for Senators and Members 2011.

28 Clause 3.3 of Guidelines on Canberra Travelling Allowance Arrangements for Senators and Members 2011.

29 Clause 3.4 of Guidelines on Canberra Travelling Allowance Arrangements for Senators and Members 2011

30 Clause 3.6 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

31 Clause 3.1 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

32 Clause 3.15 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.

33 Clauses 3.15 and 3.1 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2016/08.