Questions and Answers
- Office Accommodation
- Parliamentarians’ Travel
- Printing and Communications
- Salary and Allowances
Employees may undertake activities in support of your own re-election but not in support of the election or re-election of others.
You may not direct employees to attend party meetings. Any such attendance does not count as official duty and they will not be able to claim travel costs.
You should take into account the personal needs of the employee when making the request, including any specific risks to their health and safety, and ensure that there will be sufficient and reasonable meal and/or rest breaks within and between periods of normal duty and additional hours.
Where Electorate Staff Allowance (ESA) is paid in recognition of reasonable additional hours of work, there is an expectation that the additional hours will be proportionate to the rate of ESA paid.
Employees who are required to work additional hours and are not in receipt of ESA may access time off in lieu (TOIL) at a time agreed to by the employing Member and the employee.Senators and Members are responsible for providing a safe working environment for all workers in the office, including MOP(S) Act employees and volunteers. This includes not directing workers to undertake risky activities, and Senators and Members must be mindful of fatigue management for their employees.
The Electoral Reform Green Paper – Strengthening Australia’s Democracy (September 2009) provides at paragraph 8.55 that:
All public servants (both federal and state) are disqualified from standing as candidates by subsection 44(iv) [of the Constitution]. Public servants must resign before filing their nomination application in order to avoid the operation of this provision. Government teachers and members of the armed forces have both been held to be ineligible for election, even where they are on leave without pay. It remains unresolved as to whether persons working for elected Parliamentarians (including ministers) are also disqualified under subsection 44(iv).
If your employee has any doubts as to his or her qualifications under the Constitution, the AEC recommends that they seek their own legal advice. The AEC does not provide legal advice to prospective candidates.
There is no provision in the MOP(S) Act for an employee who resigns to contest an election, and is unsuccessful, to have their employment automatically reinstated.
Resources provided to a Senator or Member must not be used to campaign for the election or re-election of any other person, including the employee. It would therefore not be possible for a Senator or Member’s MOP(S) Act employee to undertake campaigning for their own election during normal working hours.
Employees may travel to assist you in conducting your Parliamentary and/or electorate business, and for electorate employees subject to funds being available in the Electorate Support Budget. Once the Parliament has been dissolved, it would be difficult to rely on Parliamentary business as a justification for travel.Existing restrictions on travel, such as the maximum continuous period of 35 nights’ travelling allowance being able to be claimed in one location, or the limit of 10 days self drive car hire, continue to apply throughout the election campaign period.
Any incident that involves a volunteer working for a Senator or Member must be reported to Konekt Response immediately.
Some serious work-related incidents involving volunteers are notifiable under the WHS Act, and must be reported to Comcare immediately on 1300 366 979. The Notifiable Incident Flowchart is available to assist in assessing whether an incident must be notified directly to Comcare.
The electorate office is a Commonwealth-leased office and signs promoting a Senator or Member’s own, or any other person’s candidacy, or that of the political party including political slogans, should not be displayed on the perimeter of the office (e.g.. external walls, windows, fences).
It has long been accepted that, in keeping with the convention that activities in support of a Senator or Member’s own re-election is electorate business, campaign material may be displayed for this purpose. In deciding to do so, you should take into account that the office is provided so that you can provide a service to constituents by carrying out parliamentary and/or electorate business.
While your electorate office, equipment and facilities may be used in support of your own re-election campaign, the primary use of the office is to provide a service to constituents on parliamentary or electorate business.
Were an electorate office to be used as a campaign headquarters, it would be difficult to avoid Commonwealth-provided resources being used for party business.Senators and Members should exercise careful judgement to ensure that facilities provided at Commonwealth expense are used appropriately.
You should arrange for office equipment to be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and for general repairs and maintenance to be undertaken. Should any office equipment malfunction, please contact the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services’ State or Territory Office and they will arrange repairs as soon as possible.
For IT equipment, such as PCs, laptops and printers, please contact the Department of Parliamentary Services 2020 Service Desk.
If the office will be used regularly after normal working hours, advise your security monitoring company. If working late at night, staff should be encouraged to move their vehicles closer to the office and/or arrange to walk to their vehicles with a colleague.
If there will be an increase in the number of visitors to the office, care should be taken to ensure that adequate security arrangements are in place, including ensuring that:
- you or a staff member are present at all times when the office is open
- visitors are supervised while in the office
- handbags, wallets, cameras and other portable and attractive items are kept away from public view
- papers, documents and data storage devices are locked away when not in use
- laptops are secured with a Kensington lock
- computers are not left on while unattended.
Work Health and Safety
You will need to take into account your duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). You have the same duties under the WHS Act towards volunteers who carry out work for you in any capacity in your office as you have towards MOP(S) Act employees.
You must ensure that volunteers are consulted about any aspect of their work that could affect their health and safety, and are trained in the safe operation of equipment.
Senators and Members should pay particular attention to aspects of work within their office that could increase risks to the health and safety of workers during the election period. Risk factors might include, but are not limited to:
- overcrowding within the office
- increased work hours
- increased travel
- increased contact with members of the public
- increased work outside the office environment
- unclear expectations of MOP(S) Act employees and volunteers.
- WHS Risks During the Election Campaign Period
Signs that are issues-based or campaign signage cannot be produced from the office budget.
- the name of the Senator or Member
- the name of the State/Territory or Electoral Division
- party affiliation
- the party logo OR the Commonwealth Coat of Arms (it is not appropriate to show the Commonwealth Coat of Arms with the party logo)
- an image of the Senator or Member
- the contact details of the Senator or Member.
The following items cannot be produced from the office budget:
- non-mobile signs (such as fixed billboards or bus stop signs)
- signs that are fixed to vehicles (such as caravans, trailers or, motor vehicles)
- signs that are incorporated into structures (such as a marquees, tents or shade structures)
- signs that are designed to be towed.
However, care should be taken to ensure there is no residual damage to the vehicle as a result. A payment will be sought from you to cover the cost of any restoration work that may be required.You should be mindful of the increased public and media interest at this time and any general perception of Commonwealth funds being used for party business.
The PPV provided to certain Senators and Members for use in lieu of COMCAR services in Canberra must remain in Canberra for the duration of the election period. The vehicle is provided for Parliamentary business, and is not to be used for electorate business.
Travel by scheduled services must be for Parliamentary, electorate or official business but not party business (other than meetings of a Parliamentary political party, or of its executive, or of its committees, and the national conference of a political party).Once the Parliament has been dissolved, it would be difficult to rely on Parliamentary business as a justification for travel.
You may travel within your electorate, including in support of your own re-election and where an entitlement is provided by the Remuneration Tribunal Determination, claim electorate travelling allowance up to the night preceding the polling day. In the event that you are re-elected, you may claim electorate travelling allowance commencing on the night of the polling day.
However, where the primary purpose of the overnight stay is to fulfil portfolio or specific official duties as an Office Holder, it may still be appropriate to claim travelling allowance.
Electorate charter can only be used within and for the service of your electorate as defined by your existing electoral boundaries. The redistribution will not take effect until the polling day.
Overseas study travel may not commence once the Parliament has been dissolved. In the event you are on overseas study travel at the time the Parliament is dissolved, you must return to Australia by the next available scheduled service that provides efficient and effective use of Commonwealth funds.
While you continue to receive a parliamentary allowance, you may undertake, or continue, overseas travel as a member of a parliamentary delegation or representing a Minister or the Government or representing Australia.
The use of the office budget for printing and communications is not affected by an election. During an election campaign, and at all other times, it may only be used for parliamentary or electorate purposes, and may not be used for party business or commercial purposes.
A Member may print postal vote applications for a Federal election equal to the number of enrolled voters in his or her electorate as at the last day of March before an election. A Senator may produce postal vote applications for a Federal election up to a number equal to 50 per cent of the number of enrolled voters in the State or Territory which he or she represents.
Senators and Members may use their electorate office, Parliament House office or capital city office address or a post office box for the return of postal vote applications.
There is no limit on the number of reply-paid envelopes that may be produced for postal vote applications, provided there are sufficient funds within your office budget.The delivery address of a reply-paid envelope must be the Senator or Member’s electorate office, Parliament House office or capital city office address or a post office box.
You may produce as many postal vote application forms as you require to service your electorate. However, the cost of printing additional postal vote applications above the specified limit cannot be met from the office budget, and must be paid for from other sources of funding.
The restriction on the number of postal vote applications only applies to their printing.
An electorate boundary redistribution has no effect on the number of postal vote applications that may be produced from the office budget. The Australian Electoral Commission has advised that as new boundaries do not come into effect until election day, the number of postal vote applications that may be produced is based on electorate boundaries in place at the last general election.
However, you will still need to comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
For further information please refer to the AEC’s guidelines for the reproduction of postal votes.
Print-ready items can be submitted for vetting by emailing them to PrintingandComms@finance.gov.au.
Where the collection of funds has unintentionally exceeded costs, it is recommended Senators and Members donate surplus funds to non-profit groups or charities. Functions that have been advertised using the office budget must not be used as a means of raising campaign funds.
Electorate offices will be required to facilitate the electronic reading of the postage meter balance on the day before polling day.
If re-elected, allowances under the Parliamentary Allowances Act will take effect from the polling day, providing continuity for Members who are re-elected. If a Member is not successful, the last date that they receive allowances is the day before polling day.Similar arrangements apply to a Senator for a Territory who is seeking re-election. The term of service of a Senator for a Territory commences on the day of his or her election (defined under the Parliamentary Allowances Act as the day fixed for polling or the day on which he or she was declared duly elected) and expires at the close of the day immediately before the polling day. Salary and allowances are therefore payable until the day immediately preceding polling day and if successful in re-election, will recommence from the polling day once the polls have been declared.