Part Five Staff Matters - 5.4 Travel

5.4 Travel

5.4.1 Travel within Australia

All personal employees of a Shadow Minister may travel on official business anywhere within Australia as directed by the Shadow Minister. Employees must travel by the most efficient direct route available.

A Shadow Minister, who is not also an Opposition Office Holder, may nominate a personal employee whose travel will be debited against the electorate staff travel budget, in place of an electorate employee, whose travel will not be debited against the Electorate Staff Travel Budget. The nomination of an employee in such a circumstance is to be a settled arrangement, with the expectation being that the nomination would not change within a 12 month period. Ministerial and Parliamentary Services must be advised in writing of the names of the nominated personal and electorate employees.

Travel may not be undertaken at Australian Government expense for the personal benefit of an employee.

Generally, it is the employee’s responsibility (and hence the employee’s cost) to transport himself or herself to and from work for his or her normal hours of duty (including travel to or from accommodation and the office when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business away from his or her work base). This also includes travel to attend work when the employee’s work base is distant from the employee’s home.

With the approval of the employing Shadow Minister, an employee is permitted to make a stopover for personal reasons in the course of travel on official business by the most efficient direct route available, provided:

  • the stopover is for a maximum of two nights only;
  • no annual leave is taken by the employee as part of the stopover; and
  • any additional costs for fares or costs related to the personal stopover are paid by the employee to the contracted travel services provider (or to the relevant airline etc) at the time of booking the travel.

Travelling allowance is not payable during a personal stopover. A ‘personal stopover’ is defined as ‘personal time spent at a destination where an employee has been directed to travel on official business or a break in travel at a usual point en route to the final travel destination’. For example, travel from Hobart to Canberra may include a stopover in Melbourne en route, but it may not include a stopover in Adelaide, because Adelaide is not considered to be a ‘usual point en route’ between Hobart and Canberra.

All senior staff (employees above the classification of ‘Adviser’) who are required by the employing Shadow Minister to travel on official business by air, rail, road or sea are entitled to a fare which shall not exceed the cost of a business class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points. Where a business class airfare is not published for the destination point, the cost to the Australian Government of travel by air, rail, road or sea must not exceed the economy class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points.

Employees (other than senior staff) who are required by the employing Shadow Minister to travel on official business by air, rail, road or sea are entitled to a fare which shall not exceed the cost of an economy class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points, unless otherwise determined by the Special Minister of State.1

5.4.2 Airline Loyalty Points and Lounge Memberships

Airline Loyalty Points

Under the Whole-of-Australian-Government travel contract, airline loyalty points are not accrued for travel at Australian Government expense.

Where employees have previously accrued airline loyalty points through work-related travel, these may be used to:

  • pay for additional work-related flights;
  • pay for airline lounge membership or renewal; or
  • upgrade tickets to business class for work-related travel for flights with an expected flight time of more than three hours’ duration.2

Airline Lounge Memberships

A maximum of 10 airline lounge memberships are available, at Australian Government expense, to be allocated to Opposition employees. Memberships may be to either the Qantas or Virgin Australia airline lounges and may be allocated to senior employees of an Opposition Office Holder, nominated electorate employees of an Opposition Office Holder and, at the discretion of the Leader of the Opposition, senior employees of a Shadow Minister.

5.4.3 Work Base

On appointment, employees are required to nominate as agreed by the employing Shadow Minister or authorised person, a work base for travelling allowance purposes. The ‘work base’ is the place of work where the employee spends most of his or her time on duty, and may be distant from the employee’s home or the employing Shadow Minister’s electorate office.3 A Shadow Minister’s personal employees may be based at the Shadow Minister’s Canberra office or at the Shadow Minister’s electorate office. Only in exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the Special Minister of State, can employees be based in a place other than Canberra or the Shadow Minister’s electorate office. Where such approval is given, any travelling allowance paid in respect of travel to either of the Shadow Minister’s offices is deducted from the Canberra 120 overnight stay limit (see section 5.4.4 below).

5.4.4 Travelling Allowance

Employees are paid travelling allowance when travel on official business at the direction of the Shadow Minister necessitates an overnight stay away from the employee’s work base.4 Travelling allowance is not payable for travel where there is no overnight stay involved.5

The payment of travelling allowance in Canberra is limited to a maximum of 120 overnight stays per financial year for:

  • personal employees; and
  • any electorate employee not subject to the electorate staff travel budget whose work base is not Canberra.6

Consequently it is important that employees arrange their travel so as not to exceed this limit.

The arrangements for claiming and acquitting travelling allowance are set out in the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012-2015 and its accompanying guidelines.

The travelling allowance rates are available to Shadow Ministers and their employees.

5.4.5 Car Transport

Details relating to car transport for electorate employees, including types of service available, insurance and Cabcharge cards for taxis, are set out in the Senators and Members’ Entitlements handbook and also apply to the use of car transport by personal staff of a Shadow Minister.

Generally, it is an employee’s responsibility to transport himself or herself between his or her place of residence and work for normal hours of duty (or between accommodation and the place of work when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business) and hence the costs of this travel are borne by the employee. Exceptions to this rule occur where:

  • the employee is travelling on official business and scheduled public transport services are not readily available; or
  • the trip is approved for personal safety reasons (where the risk to personal safety is significantly increased due to the requirement to work late); or
  • the employee is travelling on official business and is carrying luggage to and/or from the office for the purpose of the trip. 7

Private-Plated Vehicles and Allowance

Chiefs of Staff and Senior Advisers are entitled to the use of a private-plated vehicle for work related and private purposes or a private-plated vehicle allowance in lieu of a private-plated vehicle. The amount of the private-plated vehicle allowance is $22,947 per annum. This amount will increase to $23,635 per annum from 19 June 2014. Employees who are:

  • employed for a period of 3 months or less;
  • temporarily performance progressed to an eligible senior staff classification from an ineligible classification; or
  • employed part-time with ordinary hours of duty of less than 30 hours per week

are not entitled to a private-plated vehicle. Instead, private-plated vehicle allowance will be paid for the relevant period.

An employee who is provided with a private-plated vehicle is expected to have the vehicle available during work hours for official use by other employees of the employing Shadow Minister.

A private-plated vehicle may be selected from a list of Australian-made vehicles. Each private-plated vehicle is fully serviced, maintained and fuelled at official expense. Breakdown and accident services are provided, and the private-plated vehicle is replaced at the end of the lease. 8

Where an employee is provided with a private-plated vehicle or cash in lieu of a private-plated vehicle, other Government funded transport (including taxis) may not be used within the employee’s nominated work base except for transport to and from the airport when travelling on official business. This exclusion does not apply where the employee has a home base other than Canberra, but garages the private-plated vehicle in Canberra and the private-plated vehicle is made available for the use of other employees. 9

Footnotes

1  Schedule A to Determination 2011/10 made under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.

2  Clause 63 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012–2015.

3  The term ‘work base’ is defined in clause 76 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012–2015.

4  Clause 62.1 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012–2015.

5  Clause 62.2 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012–2015.

6  Clause 62.8 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012–2015.

7  Items 2 and 22 of Schedule A to Determination 2011/10 made under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.

8  Clause 29 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012-2015 and clauses 8, 13 and 17 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement Guidelines: Private-Plated Vehicles.

9 Item 25 of Schedule A to Determination 2011/10 made under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.