Staff may only travel with their parliamentarian’s approval and at their direction. The travel must only be undertaken for ‘official business’, such as in support of the parliamentarian’s parliamentary business.
Electorate staff may travel on official business anywhere in Australia subject to there being funds available in the parliamentarian’s electorate support budget (ESB).
Personal staff may travel on official business anywhere in Australia.Their travel is limited to claiming a maximum of 120 nights of travelling allowance in Canberra per financial year (for those staff not based in Canberra). Where a personal staff member has a non-standard work base, the 120 nights includes travelling allowance claims to the parliamentarian’s office location and Canberra.
What is meant by work base?
Work base is defined as the place where a staff member spends most time on duty, as agreed between the staff member and the parliamentarian. It is the staff member’s responsibility and personal cost to get themselves to and from work.
Particular care should be taken when nominating the work base of casual or short-term non-ongoing staff who will be directed to travel. When a staff member is directed to travel away from their work base for most of their time on duty, that other location becomes their work base. When this occurs, the staff member becomes liable for all the travel expenses incurred, including flights, travelling allowance and car transport as it is their responsibility to get themselves to and from work.
Staff may claim travelling allowance for overnight accommodation, meals and incidental expenses when directed to travel away from their work base on official business by their employing parliamentarian.
Travelling allowance can be paid as an advance (a claim signed and submitted prior to completion of the trip) or as an acquittal (a claim made after completion of the trip).
Can a staff member take a PERSONAL STOPOVER?
A personal stopover is personal time spent at a location where a staff member has been directed to travel on official business, or, a break in travel at a usual point en-route to the destination. For example, travel from Hobart to Canberra may have a usual stop in Melbourne but not Brisbane; Brisbane is not a usual point en-route between Hobart and Canberra.
A personal stopover is allowed with the approval of the employing parliamentarian provided:
- the stopover is for a maximum of two (2) nights only
- no annual leave is taken as part of the stopover
- no travelling allowance is claimed
- any additional costs for fares and all costs for ground transport and accommodation related to the stopover are paid by the staff member.
To determine whether there are additional costs for fares, the comparison must be between fares of the same class. FCM can assist with the cost comparison.
Travel and personal stopovers must not be undertaken outside of entitlements or the full cost of the fares will be recovered. IPEA initiates cost recovery action if it determines a staff member has gained a personal benefit or taken a personal stopover outside their entitlement.
Staff are able to be provided with a Cabcharge card for taxi travel at the request of their parliamentarian or authorised person. Staff may not use taxis, regulated ridesharing services, hire cars or short-term self-drive hire cars at Commonwealth expense for private use. This includes travel to and from their work base or between accommodation and work when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business away from their work base.
Exceptions apply when the staff member is travelling on official business and:
- the trip is approved for personal safety reasons (for example, where the risk to personal safety is significantly increased due to the requirement to work late)
- the staff member is travelling on official business and scheduled public transport services are not readily available
- the staff member is travelling on official business and is carrying luggage to/from the office for the purpose of the trip.
IPEA conducts regular reviews of Cabcharge usage. Reports detailing the use of Cabcharge will be sent to parliamentarians to certify their staff are using their Cabcharge in accordance with the required provisions.
Full travel details for MOP(S) Act staff are set out in Determination 2018/5: Staff Travel and Relief Staff Arrangements.