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Guidelines for Official Air Travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government Officers

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​Issue Date:31/10/2014
​Review Date:31/10/2018

Download: Guidelines for Official Air Travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government Officers 

TITLE

Guidelines for Official Air Travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government Officers

POLICY

The Government requires departments and other public sector agencies to exercise the strictest economy and accountability in relation to publicly funded domestic or overseas air travel, and to ensure that such expenditure realises tangible benefits for the State.  Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Directors General and Chief Executive Officers must:

  • Ensure that travel and travel expenditure is properly controlled and accounted for, including appropriate justifications for the travel and adequate public disclosure of the full cost of travel undertaken by Government officers;
  • Ministers are required to provide a statement to Parliament within two months of the completion of any overseas travel undertaken;
  • A summary of all overseas official air travel by each Minister, Parliamentary Secretary and Government officer is to be published and tabled in Parliament;
  • Ensure the most economical travel arrangements possible and apply the principle of 'Best Fare of the Day' provided it also meets the business requirements of the traveller;
  • Ensure that Western Australia's interests, particularly in relation to attracting convention business and trade opportunities, are promoted when Government officers travel interstate or overseas; and
  • Leave that is undertaken in conjunction with any official travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government officers must be declared and included in the travel proposal, and in the case of overseas travel, in the summary report to Parliament.  If the leave exceeds four working days in total, then only a one way fare is to be funded by the Government.

Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government officers undertaking domestic or overseas travel must comply with the guidelines. In relation to overseas travel, this includes ensuring that the Western Australian Government's overseas offices are informed of the proposed travel through the Department of State Development, obtaining the most up to date travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and visa information from the relevant Embassy or High Commission.

The Department of the Premier and Cabinet should also be consulted for advice on protocol matters.

BACKGROUND

The Guidelines for Official Air Travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government Officers deal with the following matters:

  • Definitions of the terms 'Official Air Travel', 'Government Officer', 'Best Fare of the Day' and 'Domestic Air Travel'.

  • Travel approval procedures, including class of travel, acting arrangements, membership of travel facilities and schemes, frequent flyer schemes, monitoring of travel.

  • Overseas Travel Reports.

  • Promoting Western Australia, especially for conference travel.

  • Coordination of official overseas travel.

  • Liaison and communication with overseas offices.

  • Use of Official Passports.

  • Visa requirements.

  • Official travel to the Indian Ocean Territories.

 

 

 

Colin Barnett MLA
PREMIER

 

For enquiries contact:

Kathryn Andrews, 6552 5398

Other relevant Circulars:

2010/05

Circular/s replaced by this Circular:

2012/03, 2009/04, 2007/01, 2006/10, 2004/13

Guidelines

1. Interpretation

1.1 "Official air travel" is any air travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries or Government officers pursuant to their duties as Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries or officers, or where public monies are used to fund all or part of the travel. It does not include private travel or travel undertaken by a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary as a Member of Parliament utilising the Parliamentary Travel Allowance, which is subject to separate guidelines.

1.2 "Government officers" are:

1.2.1 Employees under the Public Sector Management Act 1994;

1.2.2 Statutory office holders;

1.2.3 Members of Government Tribunals, Boards and Committees;

1.2.4 Members of teh Police Force within the meaning of the Police Act 1892; and

1.2.5 Other persons remunerated by and performing duties for or on behalf of a public body under the direction of a    Minister.

1.3 “Judicial Officers and Commissioners” means Judges, Royal Commissioners, Corruption and Crime Commissioner, Parliamentary Inspector of the Corruption and Crime Commission, Commissioners of the Supreme Court or District Court, Masters of the Supreme Court, Coroners or Magistrates.

1.4 “Best Fare of the Day” means the lowest fare that exists in the marketplace at the time of booking and for which a seat is available, that meets the business requirements of the traveller. (Refer to Travel Reservations and Associated Services Common Use Arrangement Buyers Guide at www.contractswa.finance.wa.gov.au )

1.5 “Domestic air travel” includes travel within the state (intrastate) and travel between states (interstate).

1.6 Although the approval procedures outlined in Sections 3 to 6 of these guidelines do not apply to government enterprises included in Schedule 1 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994, such entities are encouraged to follow all other provisions of the guidelines and are requested to provide travel details for publication in accordance with Section 9 of these guidelines.

1.7 Government agencies that purchase air travel for non-Government travellers (eg. patients, students etc.) should follow similar guidelines to those presented here to ensure that the most economical travel arrangements are made.

2. General Provisions

2.1 All Departments and Agencies are required to make every effort to minimise the cost of travel and the number of officers travelling interstate or overseas on official business. As part of this, consideration should be given to whether or not attendance at meetings and conferences outside of the State is necessary. If so, the minimum number of officers should be sent.

2.2 If Government officers or others are accompanying a Minister on official domestic or overseas air travel to assist in the performance of the Minister’s duties, the number of such officers or others is to be kept to a minimum.

2.3 The number of Government officers travelling and the frequency of travel is to be minimised.

2.4 No overseas air travel is to be undertaken by Government officers unless it is demonstrated that such a function could not be undertaken by existing Western Australian Government overseas offices.

2.5 Any leave that is taken immediately before, during or after any official travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and government officers must be declared and included in the travel proposal and in the case of overseas travel in the summary report to Parliament. If the leave exceeds four working days in total, then only a one way air fare is to be funded by the Government.

2.6 Attendance at interstate and overseas conferences and courses is not to be approved unless it is essential to the efficient performance of an officer’s functions and required to meet the agency’s outcomes. A business case setting out these details should accompany the travel proposal. Teleconferencing, videoconferencing and other advances in communications must be considered where cost effective as an alternative to interstate or overseas air travel.

2.7 State Government common use arrangements are to be used for travel bookings and travel arrangements should be made in accordance with buyer’s guides associated with these arrangements.

PART I: APPROVAL AND REPORTING PROCESSES

FOR OFFICIAL AIR TRAVEL

3. Air Travel

3.1 The Department of Finance (Finance) has established and manages a common use arrangement for the management of official air travel to domestic and international destinations:

Domestic Travel - mandatory arrangement - In regional areas agencies have the discretion to apply the Buy Local Policy to procure travel management servcies.

International Travel – non-mandatory arrangement

3.2 The Department of Finance has established agreements with airlines for the provision of special-to-government discounted airfares. These discounted airfares are delivered to customers only through the travel management services common use arrangement and are available in addition to normal public discount fares for official air travel.

3.3 To achieve Government cost efficiencies, agencies shall adopt the “Best Fare of the Day” principle when choosing fares for official air travel, provided that it also meets the business requirements of the traveller.

3.4 The Government relies on effective application by agencies of its “Best Fare of the Day” principle to achieve equitable distribution of official air travel across domestic airlines thereby supporting the sustainability of Western Australian air services.

3.5 Ministers’, Parliamentary Secretaries’ and Government officers’ choice of airline for official air travel must be based on the “Best Fare of the Day” principle, not traveller preference. This will enable all domestic airlines to have equal opportunity to access Western Australian Government official air travel business.

3.6 Economy Class is to be used for all official domestic and overseas air travel, with the exceptions set out in 3.7.

3.7 Business Class travel may be used for official air travel by:

3.7.1 Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries;

3.7.2 Chief Executive Officers;

3.7.3 Chairpersons of statutory bodies and Government boards and committees as approved by the responsible Minister;

3.7.4 One additional Government officer accompanying a person listed in 3.7.1 to 3.7.3 where this will facilitate the performance of that person’s duties at the destination;

3.7.5 Government officers who have an entitlement to travel business class explicitly guaranteed by contractual obligation; and

3.7.6 Judicial Officers and Commissioners.

3.8 Any variation to the class of travel by a Government officer other than by way of 3.7 must be approved in writing by the Premier.

3.9 Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries or those officers entitled to Business class travel may choose a less expensive equivalent to Business class, such as Premium Economy, if available. Officers who are not entitled to Business class travel are not permitted to choose these alternatives.

4. Overseas Travel Approval

4.1 All overseas air travel undertaken for the primary purpose of conducting official government business by Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries (on the recommendation of the designated Minister) will be approved by the Premier.

4.2 Any leave that is taken immediately before, during or after any official overseas travel by Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and government officers must be declared on the travel proposal/approval form. If the leave exceeds four working days in total, then only a one way air fare is to be funded by the Government.

4.3 All overseas air travel by Government officers will be approved by the responsible Minister and should be supported by a business case detailing the connection between the officer’s duties and the travel.

4.4 The responsible Minister may delegate in writing to a chief executive officer, approval for overseas travel by Government officers stationed in locations other than Australia where those officers are required to travel to specified countries:

4.4.1 In accordance with the officer’s contract of employment or contract for services; or

4.4.2 Within close proximity of the officer’s location and where the travel costs are less than A$1,000.

4.5 Any delegation of approval under 4.3 will not apply to travel undertaken by a Government officer in a higher class of travel than the officer is permitted under part 3.

4.6 In addition to the summary report referred to in section 9.2, the Premier, in respect of Chief Executive Officers within his portfolios or Minister or CEO will indicate on the travel proposal form whether a report is required. The report is to be submitted within two months of the completion of trip and detail the benefits to the State arising from the travel. Report requirements for Ministers are detailed in section 10.

5. Domestic Air Travel Approval

5.1 Ministers may undertake domestic air travel under their own authority.

5.2 Parliamentary Secretaries may undertake domestic air travel for the primary purpose of conducting official government business under the authority of the designated Minister.

5.3 Chief Executive Officers may undertake domestic air travel under their own authority having regard for the general principles contained in these guidelines including minimising costs and justifying the travel in the context of their public sector responsibilities.

5.4 Domestic travel by Judicial Officers and Commissioners will be approved by the responsible Minister or delegate of the Minister.

5.5 All domestic air travel by other Government officers will be approved by the Chief Executive Officer or a delegate of the Chief Executive Officer.

5.6 Any leave that is taken immediately before, during or after any official interstate travel must be declared and included in the travel proposal. If the leave exceeds four working days in total, then only a one way air fare is to be funded by the Government.

6. Approval Procedures

6.1 Agencies shall apply timely and efficient travel approval procedures to take advantage wherever possible of advance purchase discounted fares.

6.2 Any private travel must be declared and included in the itinerary.

6.3 The purchase of full economy (Y class) fares should only be made when:

6.3.1 No discounted air tickets are available under the “Best Fare of the Day” principle (which includes a consideration of business requirements such as availability of discounts at the appropriate time of day); or

6.3.2 The traveller is unlikely to travel again on Government business within the ensuing 12 month period and there is some likelihood that their trip may be cancelled and no transferable discounted air tickets are available on any airline.

6.4 Requests seeking approval to travel are to be submitted in sufficient time to allow consideration and approval. Appropriate arrangements should be established within agencies and with their respective Ministerial Office.

6.5 There may be instances where the agreed notice of a request to travel is not possible and approval may still be granted at the discretion of the delegated authority depending on the circumstances of the request and the necessity of the travel.

6.6 The approval should indicate whether a report is required to be submitted when the officer returns.

6.7 The format that should be used to seek approval to travel is included as Attachment 1.

7. Membership of Travel Facilities and Schemes

7.1 Access to airline lounge facilities, frequent flyer schemes or similar loyalty programs has the potential to influence the choice of airline for official travel and undermine the Best Fare of the Day principle. These facilities and schemes should therefore be used with discretion. Chief Executive Officers are responsible for determining whether to meet the cost of Government officers joining or maintaining these memberships.

8. Frequent Flyer Points

8.1 Consistent with the principles of conduct by public sector bodies of not using public expenditure for private advantage, frequent flyer points or benefits under other incentive or loyalty schemes accumulated in the course of official air travel must not be used for private purposes.  They may be used only for further official purposes.

8.2 Selection of an airline for official travel is not to be made on the basis of Frequent Flyer points or other incentive or loyalty schemes and must be based strictly on the best fare of the day principle.

9. Reporting and Monitoring of Travel

9.1 Reporting requirements for Ministers are detailed in section 10.

9.2 A summary of overseas travel undertaken by each Minister, Parliamentary Secretary and Government officer during each quarter of the year will be published and tabled in Parliament.

9.3 The information required to summarise travel by Ministers and their agencies is included as Attachment 2.

9.4 Where an agency has not undertaken overseas travel during any quarter, a nil return will be submitted.

9.5 To ensure accuracy and accountability for the content of each agency’s summary, returns will be approved by the Chief Executive Officer prior to submission to the Minister’s Office.

9.6 Returns for each Minister and portfolio agency will be collated and scrutinised by the Minister’s Office prior to forwarding to the Director General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Responsibility for the accuracy and content of these returns lies with each Minister’s Office.

9.7 To allow adequate time for compilation of the report by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, it is imperative that deadlines are met when forwarding returns to the Director General.

9.8 In addition to the summary report in section 9.2, where the Premier, in respect of Chief Executive Officers within his portfolios, or Minister or CEO has required a report to be completed, this must be submitted to the Premier, Minister or CEO respectively, within two months after completion of each trip and detail the benefits to the State arising from the travel.

9.8.1 Where the officer is a member of a multi-party delegation or multiple officers attend one event, only one report is required.

9.8.2 Officers are not required to disclose in a report, information gained in the course of travel that may have commercial or Cabinet in confidence implications.

9.8.3 Officers engaged on official business involving legal or privacy concerns such as extraditions or witness transport are not required to submit reports.

9.8.4  There is no requirement to publish or table reports in Parliament, although it should be noted that they may be published without reference to the agency/individual providing the report.

9.8.5 Where an agency/individual considers that a report or parts of a report contains information that should not be made public, this should be noted in the report including the reasons why the report or parts of the report should not otherwise be published.

10. Ministerial Overseas Travel Reporting to Parliament

10.1 In addition to the summary report referred to in section 9.2, Ministers are required to make a Ministerial Statement to Parliament within two months of the completion of each trip. If Parliament is not sitting within those two months, then at the first possible opportunity following the next resumption of Parliament. Statements are also required for any attendance at overseas Ministerial Council meetings.

10.2 The Statement is to refer to the places visited and address the purpose of the travel and the benefits derived from it. A detailed travel itinerary is also to be tabled, plus any other material deemed relevant.

10.3 Ministers are not required to disclose information gained in the course of travel that may have commercial or Cabinet in confidence implications.

11. Promoting Western Australia

11.1 Government officers undertaking travel overseas or interstate, which includes attending a meeting or conference as a delegate or speaker, are in a position to effectively promote Western Australia as a future destination for similar conferences or meetings.

11.2 If a Government officer’s travel includes attending an overseas conference or meeting as a delegate or speaker, then the Perth Convention Bureau must be contacted and provided with details prior to the travel being undertaken. This will enable the Perth Convention Bureau to assess the potential to attract similar conferences or meetings to Western Australia in the future and if necessary to brief the officer on how the opportunity should be pursued.

11.3 For further information on these requirements contact the Perth Convention Bureau.

Gareth Martin, Director Business Development
Tel: 9218 2912
Email: gmartin@pcb.com.au

PART II COORDINATION OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL
 
TO OVERSEAS DESTINATIONS
 
12. Notification to the Department of State Development (DSD) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
 

12.1 Government officers accompanying Ministers overseas should note that DSD must be advised of any proposed and approved overseas travel by Ministers.

12.2  DSD then forwards this advice to DFAT and to the Western Australian Government’s overseas offices.

12.3 Ministerial offices are requested to liaise with DSD prior to submitting Travel Proposal Forms for approval, to ascertain that the proposed dates do not conflict with any other confirmed travel by either State or Federal Ministers. This is to ensure that the overseas posts are in a position to assist each visit to the fullest extent possible.

12.4 DSD and the State Government’s overseas offices network are able to provide a range of information and assistance to Ministers and government officers travelling overseas.

12.5 This assistance includes country and market information from a Western Australian perspective, politico-economic assessments, cultural and diplomatic insights, statistical and economic analysis and industry profiles, as well as mission facilitation.

13. Liaison and Communication with Overseas Offices

13.1 To ensure proper coordination of the State’s interests and activities overseas it is important that the relevant overseas offices be kept informed of activities being undertaken in their regions by State government agencies or Ministers. If your agency is travelling to a destination where there is a Western Australian Trade and International Office, then you should contact DSD in the first instance. Subsequent contact can be made directly with the Western Australian Government Overseas Offices. The location of these offices and their contact details are available through the DSD’s website, www.dsd.wa.gov.au.

13.2 When planning overseas ministerial visits, if assistance is required from Australian embassies, high commissions or consular offices, the request should be made in the first instance to the State Office of DFAT. DFAT also requests that an outline travel itinerary be provided prior to departure giving flights and accommodation, so that overseas posts can be informed.

14. Passports

14.1 State Government officers travelling overseas on official government business may apply for an official passport. Where available, an ordinary passport may be used instead of an official passport.

14.2 If an official passport is required, applications should be made directly to Passports Australia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (see contact details below). As part of the passport application, a sponsorship form provided by DFAT is required to be completed by the applicant and endorsed by his/her agency representative. The applicant or his/her supervisor must sign a declaration regarding the accuracy of the information provided on the form. Chief Executive Officers, or other officers with delegated responsibility, are also required to authorise the application.

14.3 Requests by officers for authorisation by Chief Executive Officers should be accompanied by a copy of the applicant’s travel proposal that has been approved by the Premier or relevant Minister.

14.4 Departments and agencies are responsible for the control of access to official passports issued to their officers, and for ensuring that their use is restricted to official purposes.

14.5 Departments are required to ensure that the passports are held in secure locations when not in use but are still required for future use. Departments must maintain registers detailing passports held, in use or returned to Passports Australia for cancellation when no longer required.

14.6 If a bearer is no longer required to undertake official travel or has left a department or an agency, and the passport is still valid, it should be returned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for cancellation.

14.7 The address for the Passports Office (forming part of the State Office of DFAT) is

Level 17, Exchange Plaza, Sherwood Court
Perth WA 6001
Tel: (08) 9231 4499
Fax: (08) 9221 2827
Postal address: GPO Box D196, Perth WA 6001

14.8 The State Ceremonial and Events Team within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet is available to assist with advice on obtaining Diplomatic Passports (for Ministers) and Official Passports (for Ministerial Officers) and can be contacted on 65526333.

14.9 Further information on the procedures for obtaining passports is available at www.passports.gov.au/Web/index.aspx. The Australian Passports Information Service can also be contacted on 131 232.

15. Travel to Taiwan and Tibet

15.1 The Australian Government does not permit the use of official passports for travel to or from Taiwan. Should there be a need to visit Taiwan, it is to be undertaken in a private capacity only and an ordinary passport used for this purpose.

15.2 You should not attempt to travel to Tibet without permission from the Chinese authorities. Government Officers wishing to travel to Tibet on official business must apply for a Tibet Entry Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa.

16. Visas

16.1 Some countries require a visa for entry. Applications for visas are normally obtained by contacting directly the Embassy or Consulate of the country concerned or through the travel agent handling travel arrangements. Details on Embassies or Consulates are available from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade websites listed below;

protocol.dfat.gov.au/Consulate/list.rails
protocol.dfat.gov.au/Mission/list.rails.

16.2 Although in some instances visas may not be required when using an ordinary passport, they may nevertheless be required for travel on an official or diplomatic passport.

16.3 Many countries require travellers to have at least 6 months validity remaining on their passports.

17. Indian Ocean Territories - Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

17.1 As travel to the Australian Territories of Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is of an operational nature, it is treated as intrastate travel and may be approved by heads of State Government agencies. Travel to the Territories is generally undertaken to fulfil Service Delivery Arrangement obligations agreed between State agencies and the Commonwealth, and must be fully funded by the Commonwealth. In the event that travel to the Territories is required where no Service Delivery Arrangement exists, advice must be sought from the Principal Project Officer, Indian Ocean Territories, Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

17.2 Travel to and from the Territories is treated as international travel by the travel industry and therefore bookings should be made in accordance with the Government’s arrangements for international travel. Further information on travel to the Territories is available in the Buyers’ Guide for the Travel Reservations and Associated Services Common Use Arrangement that is published by the Department of Finance; (infopage.gem.wa.gov.au/docs/Buying_Guide_-_44107.pdf?).

17.3 Direct flights to Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are available from Perth. However, depending on airflight schedules, from time to time there may be options that include linkages with South East Asian international cities. If travel is required which necessitates a journey through an international city, the Principal Project Officer must be notified in advance in writing.

17.4 For further information please contact:

Lesley Walker, Principal Project Officer, Indian Ocean Territories, Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Tel: (08) 6552 5824
Fax: (08) 6552 6732
Email: lesley.walker@dpc.wa.gov.au

18. Gifts

18.1 The State Ceremonial and Events Team within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet is available to assist Ministers in observing the correct protocols with the acceptance and presentation of gifts by Ministers and can be contacted on 6552 6333. Further information regarding the presentation and receipt of gifts by Ministers is included in the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

2014_02 Travel Proposal - Attachment 1.docx

2014_02 Quarterly Travel Return - Attachment 2.docx 

 

Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.