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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 2548

Senator Ronaldson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 25 November 2008:

Has the Minister or any associated Parliamentary Secretary travelled overseas on parliamentary or ministerial business since 25 November 2007; if so, for each trip:

(1)   What was the purpose.

(2)   How many nights were spent overseas.

(3)   What were the dates and venues.

(4)   How many meetings did the Minister or Parliamentary Secretary attend.

(5)   How many departmental and/or personal ministerial staff accompanied the Minister or Parliamentary Secretary.

(6)   What was the aggregate cost.

(7)   Can an itemised account be provided of the costs for the following: (a) transportation; (b) travel allowance; (c) accommodation; (d) meals; and (e) other expenses, paid for by the Commonwealth in relation to the Minister, Parliamentary Secretary and their staff.

Senator Chris Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

Yes, Parliamentary Secretary Bill Shorten travelled to Beijing to attend the Paralympic Games.

(1)   The purpose of the visit was to support the Australian paralympic team as Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, participate in medal ceremonies and attend meetings.

(2)   Mr Shorten stayed six nights in Beijing.

(3)   Mr Shorten travelled from 12-19 September 2008 and he stayed at the Swissotel in Beijing.

(4)   Mr Shorten attended six bilateral meetings, attended paralympic events and visited a welfare centre for disabled children.

(5)   Mr Shorten was accompanied by one Senior Adviser.

(6)   The Department of Finance and Deregulation is responsible for overseas travel by Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and they report every six months on costs associated with overseas travel undertaken, including details of the dates and purpose of the travel, countries of destination. Further information on ministerial visits is also available on ministerial websites and in media and media reports.

(7) (e)   Other expenses, paid for by the Commonwealth in relation to Mr Shorten’s travel included interpreter costs which totalled RMB12,000 (approximately $2,000 Australian dollars) for the whole trip.