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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1892

Senator Withers asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(   1 ) What was (a) the total cost of air travel by Australian Public Servants within Australia and internationally in the last financial year, and ( b ) what is the estimated cost this year.

(2)   If Australian Public Servants travelled economy class, what would have been the cost saving last financial year and what would be the estimated financial saving this year.

(3)   What class of air travel for civil servants/government employees is used internally and internationally in (a) the United States of America, (b) the United Kingdom, (c) New Zealand, (d) the U.S.S.R., (e) East Germany, and(f) Poland.

Senator Murphy - The Prime Minister has provided the following information for reply to the honourable senator's question:

(1   ) to (3) Figures for the actual cost of domestic and international air travel by Australian Public Servants for 1972-73, and the estimated cost for 1973-74, are not readily available.

The figures are subsumed under the 'travelling and subsistence' component of administrative expenses for each Department (as recorded in the Appropriation Bill (No.1) of 1973-74) which covers all modes of travel and ancillary expenditure.

However, in answer to Question No. 346 the Special Minister of State has provided information on the number of officers of each Department who travelled abroad during the period 2 December 1 972 to 7 June 1 973 and the total costs of such travel (Hansard, 24 October, pages 1449-50).

In addition the Public Service Board has provided me with estimates made in 1972 which indicate that the total cost of air travel by Australian Public Servants in 1971-72 was approximately $9m in respect of domestic journeys and approximately $4m in respect of international journeys. Public Service Board estimates for 1971-72 indicate that gross savings of approximately $ 1.2m a year would have been achieved if all Australian Public Servants had travelled economy class on domestic journeys, and that for international journeys the gross savings for this group would have been of the order of $0.75m for 1971-72.

As to procedures overseas, the Public Service Board does not have all of the information requested. I have been advised, however, that in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and New Zealand the following air travel standards apply for international travel:

(a)   United States of America- first class for very senior officers, economy class for others.

(b)   United Kingdom- first class for very senior officers and for others in very special circumstances, economy class for others.

(c)   New Zealand- first class for very senior officers and members of delegations, economy class for others.

The Public Service Board currently has the question of air travel standards under investigation and hopes to bring the examination to a conclusion shortly. The Board, however, has an obligation to consult Staff Associations before final decisions on any new standards are reached.

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