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Dear Mr Gothe-Snape
I refer to your request, dated 8 August 2017, for the following documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act):
‘Can you please provide the travel expenses, invoices, receipts, credit card statements and reimbursements for the most expensive trip taken by a Minister or Assistant Minister in your Department's portfolio area in 2016-17.
I request that any fees arising in relation to this request be waived as the information is in the public interest, as it helps inform the public about how the government is spending public revenue.’
The documents you have sought align more closely with the functions of the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA). Please see below for further information.
Publically available information
The Department of Finance (Finance) has various material in relation to parliamentary travel publicly available on its website. In particular, reporting of parliamentarian’s work expenses has been published since 2008-09, please see here: http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/parliamentarians-reporting/
New independent body to oversee parliamentarians’ expenses - IPEA
However, please note that from 3 April 2017, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) was established as an independent body to oversee parliamentarians’ expenses. In particular, IPEA has responsibility for preparing regular reports relating to all work expenses, travel expenses and travel allowances claim by parliamentarians.
Since 3 April 2017, IPEA commenced responsibility for the reporting functions of parliamentarians’ work expenses from Finance. Reporting by IPEA will transition from six-monthly reporting to a quarterly and then to a monthly reporting basis, to improve transparency and accountability for parliamentarians’ work expenses.
Reporting for January to June 2017
We note that you have requested information for the 2016-17 financial year. Reporting for the period January to June 2017 is currently being compiled by IPEA. We understand that reporting for the period January to March 2017 will be available towards the end of quarter 3 in 2017. Reporting for April to June 2017 will be available towards the end of quarter 4 in 2017. Please note, as the information is still being completed for the full 2016-17 financial year, it will not be possible to identify the ‘most expensive trip’ until the reporting and acquittal processes are completed.
Suggested way forward
As IPEA would be the most appropriate agency to process your request, we suggest that you contact the IPEA FOI Team via [email address].
We note that you may wish to revise the scope of your request after consideration of the publicly available material as set out above.
On this basis, the Treasury will consider your request withdrawn unless you advise otherwise, by Wednesday 16 August 2017.
If you have any questions about your request, please contact the FOI Team.
Parliamentary and Legal Services Division
Corporate Services and Business Strategy Group
The Treasury, Langton Crescent, Parkes ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6263 2800
Email: [email address]