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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 27

(Question No. 1487)

Senator Reynolds asked the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 11 November 1986:

(1) Will the Minister for Finance initiate a review of all first-class air travel entitlements to rationalise expenditure on short flights between Canberra and Melbourne (45 minutes) and Canberra and Sydney (30 minutes).

(2) How many people in the following categories are entitled to first-class air travel between these ports-(a) elected Members and spouses; (b) public servants; (c) statutory authority appointees; and (d) defence personnel.

(3) What was the total cost of first-class air travel between Canberra-Melbourne return and Canberra-Sydney return in 1985-86 for-(a) the Department of Special Minister of State; (b) each Federal Government Department; and (c) each Federal Statutory Authority.

(4) What would be the approximate savings to government of introducing a minimum 1 hour flight requirement for first-class eligibility for all elected representatives and federal government employees and appointees.

Senator Walsh —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The matter of standard of travel entitlements for Members of Parliament, their spouses and statutory office holders is the responsibility of the Remuneration Tribunal and therefore beyond the discretion of the Minister for Finance to review. The first class air travel entitlements of public servants was reviewed recently in the context of the Australian Public Service streamlining proposals.

(2) (a) Spouses have a restricted entitlement to travel first class at official expense on a limited number of trips to or from Canberra to the Senator's State or member's electorate. Senators or Members are entitled to first class travel whilst travelling on parliamentary or electorate business within Australia.

(b) approximately 1900

(c) see the answer to (3)

(d) 145.

(3) and (4) The information sought is detailed and not readily available, and, due to the considerable effort which would be required, I do not consider that resources should be devoted to obtaining the information.

Even an approximate indication of likely savings from the introduction of 1 hour flight times for first class eligibility would be very difficult to obtain.