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Selection and Use of Offices

Dominant Purpose of Parliamentary Business

Office accommodation must be used for the dominant purpose of parliamentary business. It must not be for the dominant purpose of providing a personal benefit to you or another person (which may be a non-commercial personal benefit).

However, you must not use your office for any commercial purposes. Commercial purpose is defined in section 5 Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 as a ‘purpose relating to the derivation of financial gain or reward’. 

Where use of your office could be perceived to have a benefit to you or another person, consideration should be given as to whether you are prepared to publicly justify the use as being for the dominant purpose of parliamentary business, and whether the perceived benefit may be difficult to defend publicly, regardless of the parliamentary business being undertaken (see Personal Responsibility - Acting Ethically and in Good Faith).

Scenarios Permitted Excluded
Use of your office for activities to support your re-election campaign. Permitted, with limitations by convention – see Election Q&As Permitted  
Display of signs outside or inside the office advertising a local business.   Excluded
Use of your office predominantly for personal purposes.
Note: While your office is provided for the dominant purpose of parliamentary business, limited incidental use is permitted. However, regular personal use (e.g. for unrelated meetings or private functions) may not be defensible.
  Excluded
Use of your office by a business to store merchandise or make business telephone calls etc.
Note: Commercial use on any scale is not permitted.
  Excluded

Use by Community Groups

You may allow not-for-profit community groups to use your Commonwealth-funded office facilities for minor non-commercial purposes, such as to make local calls or small amounts of photocopying. You must exercise your judgement as to the nature of the community group or individual and what constitutes ‘minor’ use, as excessive use of your office facilities by community groups or individuals may constitute an actual or perceived improper use of Commonwealth resources or contravene the dominant purpose test.

You remain accountable for all use of resources provided to you at Commonwealth expense, including any charges incurred for use of office equipment and facilities, such as telephones. You should ensure appropriate oversight of the use of your office(s) by community groups. This includes:

  • the safety and security of office equipment, facilities and documents
  • supervision of the use of office facilities by employees who are familiar with the safe operation of the equipment and are able to provide assistance or instruction if required.

You should also note that, in addition to your duties to your workers, you have duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of any person is not put at risk from work carried out within your workplace.

Selection of Premises and Value for Money

The value for money test must be met when selecting premises. The Special Minister of State is responsible for determining what office accommodation is provided, and is also obliged to ensure that value for money is achieved in relation to the premises and allocation of resources.

Value for money takes into account relevant factors including: leasing costs such as rent and outgoings; size and layout; and location and accessibility. Generally, it is expected that you will occupy the office vacated by your predecessor. If you wish to request that your office be refurbished, extended or relocated, you should take your overarching obligations under the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017, especially value for money, into consideration and seek advice from your Ministerial and Parliamentary Services State Manager about the procedures involved before making a request.

Factors that affect the selection of premises include the lease conditions and any incentives; the location in relation to a transport hub/cbd/your home base (which may increase time and cost efficiencies); the likelihood of: any potential electorate boundary redistributions; change in portfolio or office (premises may become over/undersized); re-letting the premises.

The approval of the Special Minister of State is required for:

  • A new lease, lease extension or exercise of option
  • A request to relocate an office
  • Office refurbishment exceeding $20,000 in estimated costs (Ministerial and Parliamentary Services handles fitouts costing less than $20,000).

Size and Layout of Premises

Size is only one of a range of value for money considerations. Office sizes vary, but typically second and third electorate offices are smaller, and offices for Ministers, and (where possible) Parliamentary Secretaries and Office Holders are larger to accommodate the additional staff allocated to assist with official duties. An office located within a Commonwealth Parliament Office may be smaller due to the shared facilities.

Office layouts usually include:

  • an entrance that provides adequate equitable access
  • a secure reception counter
  • a personal office for you
  • office space for your staff
  • kitchen facilities
  • toilet and washroom facilities
  • a multi-function room for meetings, interviews and general work
  • a storage and utilities room
  • a second entrance, where possible.

Ministerial and Parliamentary Services provides guidance and consults with you and the Contracted Property Services Provider on office layout, location and furniture and fittings with the intention of providing the highest practicable degree of compatibility with your office needs, equitable access, security and work health and safety based on current knowledge and standards, and also achieving value for money. See Responsibilities for Office Issues.

Last updated: 09 December 2019