- Employee travel
- Class of travel
- Travelling allowance
- Personal stopovers
- Car transport
- Motor vehicle allowance
- Travel outside the rules
- More information
Subject to available funds in the electorate support budget, electorate employees may travel as directed by the employing parliamentarian anywhere within Australia on official business, i.e. to assist the employing parliamentarian to carry out their duties as a Member of Parliament.
Personal employees may travel on official business anywhere within Australia as directed by the employing parliamentarian. All employees must travel by the most efficient direct route available.
It is an employee’s responsibility (and hence the employee’s cost) to transport himself or herself to and from their work base for normal hours of duty (or between accommodation and work when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business away from their work base). This includes travel to and from work when the employee’s work base is distant from the employee’s home. The Commonwealth will not meet the costs of travel between home and any employee’s work base, regardless of the distance between an employee’s work base and home, other than in the circumstances set out at item 17 of Determination 2020/15 (and repeated under ‘Car Transport’).
Employees at the level of Adviser and below may access fares that do 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.
Employees above the level of Adviser may access fares not exceeding the cost of a business class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points.
Employees at the level of Adviser and below who are employed by a Minister, Assistant Minister, Opposition Office Holder or Presiding Officer may be directed to travel at business class when on the same aircraft as their employing member, where there is a working need to do so.
Employees are paid travelling allowance when directed to travel on official business by their employing parliamentarian, where the travel requires an overnight stay away from the employee’s work base.
There are commercial and non-commercial rates:
- Commercial rates are paid for commercial accommodation providers as defined by the ATO. Generally, a commercial accommodation provider will issue an Australian tax invoice, including GST and an ABN for the premises. Before a booking is made, employees should consider whether GST is payable for their accommodation if they intend to claim the commercial TA rate, as some accommodation arrangements, for example through Airbnb or private holiday rentals on Stayz, do not satisfy this requirement.
- Non-commercial rates are paid for stays in non-commercial accommodation, such as the home of a family member or friend. Airbnb and other ‘share economy’ arrangements are generally residential accommodation, and are paid at non-commercial rates.
Particular care should be taken in nominating the work base of casual or short-term non‑ongoing employees who will be directed to travel. If the travel is for the majority of their period of employment, the work base is the location to which the employee travels. Therefore, there may be no reason to claim travel expenses for travel at Commonwealth expense as it is the employee’s expense to travel between their home and their work base. Travelling allowance would not be paid at the location to which the employee travels as it is their work base. Parliamentarians requiring support staff in Canberra may wish to consider deploying an ongoing electorate employee or a longer-term non-ongoing employee.
Further information about establishing a work base is available in the Employee travel section of the Handbook on the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS) website.
The arrangements for claiming travelling allowance are set out in the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2020-23 and its accompanying guidelines.
With the approval of the employing parliamentarian, an employee may make a stopover for personal reasons in the course of travel on official business by the most efficient direct route available. Any additional costs or fares related to the personal stopover must be paid directly to the contracted travel services provider at the time of booking the travel.
Personal stopovers may be taken before official business commences, after official business has been completed, or between adjacent periods of official business, provided the stopover is for a maximum of two nights and no annual leave is taken by the employee as part of the stopover.
Subject to the general conditions that apply to all travel on official business as directed by the employing parliamentarian, employees may use:
- regulated ridesharing services
- hire cars
short-term self-drive cars hired through the travel services provider, or with any car hire company, provided that:
- the hire is of no more than 10 days duration
- the vehicle is not used for journeys within Canberra
- the vehicle is not used for journeys within a city/town where the employer’s electorate or other office is located, except by employees of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, or the leader of a minority party.
For the purposes of car hire by employees, a capital city, other than Canberra, is defined by the boundaries of the electorates identified as urban on the Federal Electoral Boundaries map published from time to time by the Australian Electoral Commission. Canberra includes locations within a 30km radius of Parliament House.
Self-drive hire cars should be used on weekdays only unless exceptional circumstances apply and the parliamentarian has approved the use.
The cost of insurance may be included in the cost of self-drive car hire where it is purchased as part of the vehicle hire. It is the responsibility of employees to ensure that they arrange the appropriate level of insurance for the circumstances of the hire. To reduce liability to the Commonwealth in case of loss or damage to the vehicle, this will usually be the highest level of insurance cover available.
Employees are provided, on the request of the employing parliamentarian or authorised person, with a Cabcharge card for taxi travel. Employees are not entitled to use taxis, regulated ridesharing services, hire cars or short-term self-drive hire cars at Commonwealth expense for private use.
As noted above, it is the employee’s responsibility (and hence the employee’s cost) to transport themselves to and from their work base for normal hours of duty (or between accommodation and work when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business away from their work base). However, exceptions to this rule apply to the use of car transport in the following circumstances:
- 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 employee is travelling on official business and scheduled public transport services are not readily available
- the employee is travelling on official business and is carrying luggage to/from the office for the purpose of the trip.
Employees authorised by the employing parliamentarian to travel on official business may be reimbursed their toll and parking costs. Such costs must be reasonable (e.g. it is generally expected that long-stay parking is used at an airport) to be eligible for full reimbursement. Toll and parking costs are not reimbursed where incurred during a personal stopover or a period of leave. Employees are not entitled to be reimbursed for valet parking costs.
Costs of all car transport for electorate employees are subject to the electorate support budget, other than for nominated electorate employees of certain Office Holders.
Parliamentarians are encouraged to check the accuracy of each monthly management report as it is received to ensure that Cabcharge expenditure is correctly recorded and within rules. From time to time, MaPS will undertake a detailed check of Cabcharge expenditure and further explanation will be requested if a trip appears to have been undertaken between the office and accommodation outside of the rules. The employing parliamentarian will be asked to certify if any of the above exceptions applied to the travel undertaken.
An employee may be authorised by the employing parliamentarian, in advance of the proposed use, to use their privately-owned vehicle or a self-drive hire vehicle, at their own expense, for the purpose of official business. That is, the employing parliamentarian considers that it results in greater efficiency or involves less expense. In this circumstance, the employee is paid motor vehicle allowance.
The current motor vehicle allowance rate is 64 cents/km, up to 5,000km per financial year. After 5,000km, IPEA withholds tax in accordance with ATO requirements.
IPEA monitors employees’ travel. If an employee travels to a destination or at a class of travel outside the rules, it is brought to the attention of the employing parliamentarian. Cost recovery action may be initiated to recover any payment for that travel, as a debt due to the Commonwealth.
- About the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2020-23
- MOP(S) Act determinations and directions
- MaPS Domestic Travel Factsheet
- MaPS Overseas Travel Factsheet
- MaPS Travelling Allowance Factsheet
- Guidelines for the Use of Cabcharge Cards
For travel related queries, contact IPEA by phone (02) 6215 3000 or email enquiries [at] ipea.gov.au
For advice on non-travel related expense matters please contact M&PS by emailing mpshelp [at] finance.gov.au, or by calling (02) 6215 3333.