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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 381

Mr Garland asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   How many overseas trips have been undertaken by himself and his Ministers since the First Whitlam Ministry was sworn in.

(2)   How many (a) members of the Minister's personal staff, (b) public servants, (c) journalists and (d) other persons accompanied the Minister in each case.

(3)   Did the Commonwealth pay for all travel and accommodation,.

(4)   Which countries were visited on each trip.

(5)   What was the approximate total cost of each trip.

(6)   Does he personally authorise each trip; if not, who does.

(7)   In how many cases was an aircraft specifically chartered for all or part of the trip.

(8)   What was the average number of staff and advisers accompanying each Minister.

(9)   Did he indicate to his Ministers that he believed there had been too many trips to be acceptable to the Australian public.

(10)   What in general are the arrangements made for expenditure for each category of persons travelling.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   From December 1972 to 30 June 1973 17 Ministers have commenced or completed 32 overseas visits.

(2)   The number of people accompanying each Minister is shown in the attached table. The table also indicates the countries visited.

(3)   No. In some cases Ministers and others were guests of foreign governments. The Government is also reimbursed the air fares of accompanying press representatives.

(4)   See (2) above.

(5)   In accordance with usual practice the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 shows expenditure brought to account during the preceding financial year for overseas travel by Ministers (including personal staff). The costs of travel by departmental officers are shown in the Bill against the votes of the departments concerned.

(6)   As under previous governments, the Prime Minister personally authorises overseas visits by Ministers.

(7)   On three visits.

(8)   See (2) above.

(9)   In these words, no. I have discussed the matter with Ministers who are aware of the need to keep in touch with trends in other countries and at the same time to make overseas visits only when they are essential and at times when the visits can best be fitted in with commitments in Australia.

(10)   In general, arrangements for expenditure have not been changed from those applying under previous governments. Ministers receive an advance for official expenditure and repay any unexpended portion. Officials receive travelling allowance in accordance with Public Service rules. Wives' and guests' fares and accommodation costs are met but they do not receive any travelling allowance. Journalists meet their own expenses.



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