Officials' cab fares cost $60k a day

Federal bureaucrats are spending more than $62,000 a day on taxis, with costs escalating over the past few months.

While the Abbott government has promised to ''stop the waste'' and slash excessive public spending, the cost of taxis is emerging as a significant expenditure.

Almost $11 million was spent on taxi fares from September last year to February this year. This equates to 142 trips around the world and the daily cost is more than double the $30,000 during the first three months of Prime Minister Tony Abbott being in office.

Fairfax Media has obtained an exhaustive list of taxi spending from every government department, requested by Labor senator Joe Ludwig in Senate estimates.

Based on the standard fare in Canberra, it amounts to more than 5 million kilometres travelled in taxis over the five months.

The Defence Department was the biggest spender, putting $3.7 million of taxpayers' money on the meter from November to February. The Australian Taxation Office, under Treasury, had a bill of $1.1 million for the same period.

The Defence Department said that taxis were used when they were the most cost-effective form of travel, or "no other reasonable alternative transport is available". Defence was unable to provide a breakdown of its costs in answers to Senate estimates, citing "unreasonable diversion of resources" to prepare the information. The costs include a large amount of international travel compared with other departments.

Defence was contacted by Fairfax Media but did not have enough time to provide further detail.

The ATO told the Senate the taxi use was so high because it was a "large national organisation" with 80 per cent of its staff located outside Canberra.

"There is a need for the ATO to connect with the community, businesses, tax professionals and staff, requiring travel for a number of employees in the course of their ordinary duties," the ATO said.

Another large bill belongs to the Department of Human Services. Its taxi fares cost about $950,000 from September to February. Costs included transport to assist job seekers and other official business.

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