Each Member may designate up to 12 trips each fiscal year (April to March) for travel with an accompanying person. An accompanying person may be an individual of the Member’s choosing, but is typically a family member. A Constituency Assistant or a Legislative Assistant (or another designated caucus position in a caucus where the position of Legislative Assistant does not exist) also qualifies for accompanying-person travel. The travel of other caucus staff is paid for by caucus global funding. On occasion, there may be a business requirement for a constituent to travel in the capacity of accompanying person, such as an expert on a government issue who is required and/or invited to attend a meeting or an event at the Legislative Assembly.
The policy specifies that the accompanying person’s travel must overlap significantly with that of the Member. Occasionally, there may be exceptions to this when a Constituency Assistant or a Legislative Assistant (or, as noted above, another designated caucus position in a caucus where the position of Legislative Assistant does not exist) is required to attend work-related meetings or when a Member’s designated traveler is required to travel independently of the Member in the case of a serious medical emergency affecting the Member. A serious medical emergency is defined as a sudden and unexpected injury or condition that poses an immediate threat to a Member’s health or life which requires medical intervention.
Accompanying person travel can only be undertaken within the province and is typically to/from Victoria for special events such as the opening or closing of a Session of Parliament, or when the Legislative Assembly sits for extended periods of time. Accompanying person travel does not apply to in-constituency travel.
The annual trip allotment for accompanying person travel is non-transferable; trips cannot be shared with other MLAs. Remaining trips at fiscal year-end are not carried forward. In the event that a Member exceeds the maximum 12 trips per fiscal year, costs may be covered by the constituency office allowance for Constituency Assistant or Legislative Assistant travel only. Additional travel with an accompanying person will be deemed a personal expense, and costs must be paid by the Member.
An accompanying person can claim most out-of-pocket expenses related to travel. Typical expenses include air fare, ferry costs, mileage when using a private vehicle, bus, accommodations, parking, and taxis. A per diem reimbursement may also be claimed by a Constituency Assistant or a Legislative Assistant or individual (such as a constituent) to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses for each day that qualifies as accompanying-person travel. A per diem reimbursement cannot be claimed by family members.