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Public servants to have wings clipped

By S4anta - 17 March 2008 25

In a move that is sure to have many a perk-conscience public servant quivering much akin to a Dolhpin on a John West cannery tour, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner sees savings of up to $15 million from Departmental travel costs by insisting Public servants give the budget airlines a burl, and using video conferencing where possible. This however was a decision thrown out by the former Howard Government, and has been embraced by St Kev the Immaculate and his cost conscience cabinet. However, the SMH had a spray about the dirty tactics being used by airlines such as Tiger, ane xample being lost cost airfare however if your carry on luggage is over 10kg’s, prepare to pay $10-15 per kg over. Thats even before you look at the double booking, old aircraft and staff not neccesarilly knowing which domestic airport they are currently taxi’ing into, or where they are going.
Video conferencing will be canvassed as a possibnle idea, providing confiedntaility can be assured, so good luck with one lads. No more hanging out in an office using your eyeball there me thinks.

“We want to get a focus on the issue of cost management and look at the most efficient ways of doing things,” the minister’s spokesman said.

They will also be looking at forcing the use of frquent flying points, which for a long time has been seen as a perk of the executives, whom bank roll those for the travels to see grand kids and elderly parents interstate during their dotage. As for the good folk working for the various State Governments and the odd-State office that isn’t a backwater for the methadone monkeys and random sheltered workshop look-alikes, looks like you’ll be travelling to see the big boys in Canberra from here, for at least a few years.

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25 Responses to
Public servants to have wings clipped
thetruth 11:17 pm 17 Mar 08

Will the government be reimbursing staff who chose to Salary Sacrifice Qantas Club membership with this change of policy, or will they cough up for Virgin as well?

Well a salary sacrifice is for personal use – so no they wouldn’t. If you choose to get a free feed this way then that the risk.

Its a good call for greater decentralisation into areas where people actually live (I love the idea of having the automotive industry folk housed at Allara st when they could be housed at melbourne and or adelaide and at least be close to one operation. Or mining / resources being in Perth or Brisbane (BHP have just moved their global headquarters to Perth so they think this is where they can gain operational efficiencies) TCF industries would logically be in Melbourne. The TGA could operate out of Sydney, Melboune or Brisbane to be closer to the pharma industries inwhich they liase.

The DVA are nicely distributed with their clients why can’t other departments Why is AQIS and Customs in Canberra – why not at major facilities like sydney, melbourne or brisbane.

There are more and cheaper routes in bigger destinations (plus international flights would not require connenctions)

How much easier would it be to attract staff to say Brisbane than to Canberra? There is no living in Brisbane campaign?

So why Canberra?

les 10:59 pm 17 Mar 08

video conferencing isn’t exactly a cheaper alternative – apparently the department is charged $200/hr for the privilege… but then you’d have to consider the other costs like time spent waiting and travelling otherwise… who knows….

diprotodon 10:50 pm 17 Mar 08

Will the government be reimbursing staff who chose to Salary Sacrifice Qantas Club membership with this change of policy, or will they cough up for Virgin as well?

ant 10:35 pm 17 Mar 08

Agree, Shauno. This is a biggie. You could send 2 people O/S for the price of the average trip. And they can always try to use their points to upgrade.

Some smarter dep’ts have found ways to record the points accrued by staff for work trips, and to utilise them especially on domestic flights.

shauno 10:27 pm 17 Mar 08

In the Oil and Gas industry money isn’t exactly in short supply but regardless everybody usually flys economy even up to quiet a high management level. We frequently do get business though because some of our flights are booked at the last minute and its the only seats available. We get full economy fares usually so we can make changes and as most of our flights are International this saves a heap of money. I can not see any reason for the Government to be flying anyone Business class overseas. The cost of ticket to say LA would be 7k to 9k compared to maybe 2k. If Rudd is serious about saving money this should be the first thing to go.

ant 10:24 pm 17 Mar 08

It’ll be interesting to see if this gov’t has more luck enforcing this than previous gov’ts. They usually come up with all these grand ideas…. feed the smaller non-Qantas airlines, fly economy, use the cheaper airfares, etc etc blah.

But. The Departments release something vague to their people, the SES (bulk of travellers) ignore it as it’s aimed at the peasants, Dep’t tells the EAs that This Is Serious and leaves them to somehow get it through to their bosses. And not surprisingly, it falls in a heap.

Now, Rudd and Co have so far done a few different things and I’m wondering if maybe having a PM who was in the APS might mean that this gov’t has some real inside knowledge. But just releasing edicts and telling departments to Save Money has always failed before.

thetruth 9:13 pm 17 Mar 08

regarding travel it is also worth noting the carbon footprint maybe forcing departments to budget their carbon foot print will have better travel outcomes.

I-filed 9:12 pm 17 Mar 08

In defence of public servants, junior public servants on less than $70,000 travel too – it is no treat having to get up at 4.00 am to catch an early flight to make a 9.00 am meeting because you already aren’t allowed to stay overnight the night before … bit of easing on the checkin side of things is very welcome … and no, the extra check-in time is NOT paid time.

thetruth 9:12 pm 17 Mar 08

The previous Government tried to enforce this edict but public servants wanted to fly Qantas because it had food that you didn’t pay for and they had qantas club (for food that you didn’t pay for).

Public servants are very simple beasts if yoou give them food (or anything) for nothing they don’t mind paying more with taxpayers dollars.

Just look next time at what happens to the food left over after a hospitality meeting – ever been to one that didn’t have something left over??? Good old deliberate over catering to feed your section (see how long it lasts after the email goes out)

AussieGal83 8:48 pm 17 Mar 08

We use teleconferencing in our Department a hell of a lot. Maybe the Ministers should also think about their own travel. Our Minister travels over to WA nearly every other week, its ridiculous.

mutley...again 7:12 pm 17 Mar 08

Jeebus S4anta, would it kill you to proof-read occasionally?

VicePope 5:44 pm 17 Mar 08

The silliness of most travel for meetings is beyond me to understand. Have these people not heard of telephones and e-mail (or, indeeed, videoconferencing)? No-one catches a plane for the food, or for the fun of being at the airport at some stupid hour of the morning. So why do we do it at all?

For trips to Sydney, dare I say driving or catching a bus or train will probably be close to as quick, assuming there is some reason for doing a face to face thing. I wonder how much of public sector travel is because senior business people travel, and it becomes a status thing.

The government (generally) would have to be the biggest customer of domestic air travel to and from Canberra. Given the growing appreciation of the fact that there is one government (ie, one Commonwealth public sector), what would be wrong with saying that it needs X trips to Brisbane on Tuesday (etc), and letting the airlines compete for the best price, and then allocating the trips to the agencies that need them? In other words, why not act as its own version of Flight Centre? Any extras can be bought commercially. A huge silliness and waste of time/money in some agencies is making high-paid people book their own flights and accommodation (individually).

p1 5:17 pm 17 Mar 08

what does it cost in lost productivity if a EL2 sits in departure for an extra hour because of tigers aggressive policy of early check in?

Or though i have to say I am generally for these changes.

Ingeegoodbee 5:04 pm 17 Mar 08

The idea of selecting a cheap flight is a tricky thing. the reasons behind business travel are often quite fluid and there’s often plenty of need for flexibility – you might have a string of meetings lined up and some cancel meaning you want to be back early rather than hang around in another city wasting time, clients might want to reschedule at late notice etc. this sort of flexibility doesn’t come cheap and you’re unlikely to get it with the budget airlines.

It mightn’t be across the board, but I understood that public sector travellers didn’t score frequent flyer points – I certainly know a number of departments haven’t had them for at least five years. This was part of a cost efficiency trade off with QANTAS because at the scale that the Commonwealth buys travel there were savings to be made if the airline didn’t need to manage the points – PS travellers do get status credits though, the only real perks of which are free club lounge membership and preferential access to upgrades.

Of interest though, and what at first blush seems to be contradictory to the stated economy drive, is the fact that since the election public sector travellers undertaking international travel now fly business class on all sectors rather than just the international ones – when you’re buying rack rates that’s gotta add a bit to a trip.

BerraBoy68 5:03 pm 17 Mar 08

Having recently left the Public service after 20 years I can say “about time!”.

In at least two department where I worked we lobbied to be allowed to travel on the cheaper airlines domestically and, when traveling overseas, to be allowed to fly economy. Sounds weird I know but the reason is we were constantly being refused travel to important meetings on the grounds the airfares were too expensive. I still can’t understand why Public Servants have to fly Business Class when they’re going overseas. I’ve had two trips and the taxpayer would have been better off if I went economy. Don’t get me wrong, Bus. class is a nice perk but still…

We were also refused the chance to use our frequent flyer points earned on other work trips we did undertake. We couldn’t use them for either work or personal purposes, what a waste.

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