Business course

Officials taking business class flights between Sydney and Canberra

The Department of Defense was the worst offender overall, with 2,991 thefts costing a total of $2.6 million.


Policy on business class flights seems to differ significantly from department to department.

The Department of Industry, the Department of the Attorney General and the Treasury generally do not allow any of their employees to travel business class between Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. But other departments do not have this restriction, with Defense allowing business class for its senior staff for any flight over 90 minutes.

All departments only allow personnel who are SES (Senior Executive Services) level or above to fly for business.

Former senator Rex Patrick said it was generally unreasonable for public servants to take business class flights of less than four hours.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable under any circumstances – except perhaps for a minister or a secretary who might be doing work on the plane – to fly business class for these stages,” he said. declared.

“Most people would expect a short 55 minute flight, people should fly economy class.”

In his nearly five years as a senator, Patrick said he had only flown business class twice between Canberra and his hometown of Adelaide because he was unable to get seat in economy class.

Brian Marlow, chairman of the libertarian-leaning Australian Taxpayers Alliance, suggested that Australia’s big business had tougher policies than government departments.

He said business class on short flights such as Canberra-Sydney did not meet community expectations.

“It’s unacceptable, and officials know it,” he said. “Most people would expect public servants to treat their taxpayers’ money with some respect.”

He said some people might see the numbers as a “drop in the bucket” compared to other government spending, but it “completely misses the point”.

“A civil servant who is willing to spend our money on unwarranted business class flights is the same civil servant who will burn our money by throwing it into other useless government initiatives,” he said.

Figures released under FOI laws do not specify whether fares were booked in business class or upgraded from economy class, and some departments did not include departure and arrival cities in their data.

Asked about its policy for domestic flights, the Department of Infrastructure said: “The rate class for Senior Executive Service (SES) level employees within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, of Communications and the Arts is business class.”

The Department of Industry said all SES employees and above can travel business class “except on…short-haul flights” between Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

The Ministry of Defense said SES staff can book business class if “the expected flight time is more than 90 minutes at the time of booking”.

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