Australian government should restrict business class travel to long-haul flights only: Travel expense technology expert

By @snksounak on
Philip Weinman
Philip Weinman, CEO & Executive Chairman of Australian travel and expense technology company Locomote Supplied

Australian pollies don’t have the best track record for their travel expenses “entitlements,” with Labor frontbencher Tony Burke the latest to be scrutinised after reports revealed that he had spent nearly $2.2 million from the public coffers on travel expenses in the past seven years. But the travel expense controversy could have been entirely avoided if there was actually a system in place to manage every aspect of politicians’ travel expenses, suggests one expert.

Philip Weinman, CEO & Executive Chairman of Australian travel and expense technology company Locomote, believes inadequate measures were put in place by the government to prevent over-spending, including the simple act of setting up a proper system for travel budgets. 

“When it comes to travel management, it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive,” says Weinman in an exclusive interview with the International Business Times. “Establishing strong and well-defined policies and making sure everyone aligns with them is essential, such as a policy that restricts business class to long-haul flights only.”

Like most companies, these policies could include creating a budget specifically for travel, taking into account different types of travel, and implementing an easy-to-use system so politicians are aware of - and able to meet - their budget for each trip they make.

This means that while Burke’s spending is not wholly unjustified, with the senior Labor MP defending himself by saying, “these jobs cannot be done properly from behind a desk in Sydney,” and that “any minister not out engaging with community groups and taking a hands-on approach to their portfolio isn't doing their job properly,” the sum he had reportedly spent - $400,000 he reportedly spent on domestic travel, $600,000 on overseas travel and over $1.1 million on travelling allowance, domestic fares, car costs and family travel - could have been significantly reduced.

Weinman instead suggests following the lead of Australian businesses, the majority of which already have standards in place to prevent expenses claims from blowing the budget. He suggests three easy ways the government can control the travel expenses of politicians:

·         Set a limit to credit cards when shared with politicians who are travelling.

·         Use digital wallets and other smart technology solutions that give the government complete visibility and control of travel expenses, and which will prevent any attempts to breach set policies.

·         Opt for an easy-to-use interface that allows politicians to authorise, book and request on any device, anywhere in the world.

While the likelihood of politicians embracing such smart technology and platforms depends on the government, Weinman believes the federal government will assess the recent controversies, from Bronwyn Bishop to Tony Burke, and make sure they don’t happen again.

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