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Tuesday, 1 May 1984
Page: 1437

(Question No. 594)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 13 December 1983:

(1) Is there a procedure for selection of accommodation for Australian officials, including parliamentarians, visiting overseas countries.

(2) Who is responsible for such selection.

(3) How is such selection made.

(4) Do officers have to visit overseas posts in order to develop the selection process.

(5) What is the salary and status of persons involved in this selection process .

(6) What has been the cost to revenue for overseas trips of these persons whilst they are conducting this accommodation selection process in each of the last four years.

(7) Will the Government review this selection process in view of the costs involved and in view of the fact that persons going overseas would often appreciate being accommodated in hotels that are more accessible to local communities and are more reflective of the communities and their cultural backgrounds.

Senator Button —The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1, 2 and 3) Accommodation for Australian officials, including parliamentarians , visiting overseas countries is normally selected by the appropriate Australian Government overseas post in accordance with the accommodation requirements and itinerary of the traveller in question. In those cases where the traveller expresses no preference regarding accommodation, the post would make a selection based on local knowledge, and take into consideration the travel allowance of the visitor, the standards of facilities available, their cost, their proximity to venues to be visited and security aspects. Many posts have negotiated favourable tariff agreements with local hotels and it is to these hotels that the majority of official travellers would be directed.

(4, 5 and 6) No overseas visits are made by officials specifically to develop this selection process. However information on costs and standard of hotels in overseas countries is forwarded to Australia by posts to facilitate regular reviews of travelling allowance rates for public servants. In addition, all posts are visited by inspectors of the Public Service Board during the course of a cyclical inspection program. During these visits, which involve a wide ranging review of allowances and other conditions of service, the opportunity is taken to review the appropriateness of the standard of hotels used for travelling allowance purposes. The Board's inspectors who undertake this work are classified at Class 8, Class 9 and Class 11 in the clerical/administrative pay group.

(7) The Government does not plan to alter the existing procedure for the making of accommodation arrangements. Under the present system it is, of course, open to parliamentarians travelling overseas to inform the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra, or the relevant post, of the type and location of the accommodation they wish to use.