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Wednesday, 31 March 1999
Page: 4888


Mr SWAN (4:55 PM) —We will support the amendments, although the first that I have seen of them was a few minutes ago. But I do accept the minister's assurance that they are only relatively minor amendments.

I would like a few minutes to respond to some of the matters that the minister just raised. The minister referred to the Tuggeranong Centrelink office. Of course, one of the major criticisms that was made of this bill was that there is a roadblock in the delivery of benefits and allowances in this country—that is, the gridlock in Centrelink. Something like 81 per cent of all calls to Centrelink receive an engaged signal. We know that in January it was impossible for people to get an appointment—that there were waiting periods.


Mr Truss —Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: the honourable member for Lilley should be speaking to the amendments before the House, and is out of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins) —Order! The honourable member for Lilley cannot directly revisit the second reading debate. He has to address the amendments in the consideration in detail debate.


Mr SWAN —Indeed, it is a very important bill which is having a dramatic effect on many young people in our community. The amendments that have been moved will also have an effect on many young people, particularly those in education, which is what I think the amendments relate to. The capacity of many families to continue to support their children in their educational activities is severely eroded by provisions in this bill, and their capacity to access services through Centrelink has been severely eroded by the gridlock in that organisation.


Mr Truss —Mr Deputy Speaker, on a further point of order: the amendments relate to the words `July' and `January'. There is no possible way in which the member for Lilley's comments are relevant to these amendments.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Lilley will stick to the amendments being considered in the consideration in detail stage.


Mr SWAN —Six months is a long time in a young person's life, isn't it, Minister? Many young people are very seriously affected by this. And some people, I would not be surprised to find out, probably take six months to get an appointment at Centrelink under your policies. You know that, on that day at Tuggeranong, you moved in five behind-the-counter staff and additional PR staff from Centrelink at considerable expense to the taxpayer.


Mr Truss —Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: the statements are utterly wrong. They are totally out of order in the debate on these amendments.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The question before the chair is that the amendments be agreed to. I ask the honourable member for Lilley to be relevant to the question.


Mr SWAN —Despite the fact that we received these amendments only minutes ago, we are quite happy to support them. But we cannot support the pernicious aspects of this bill, nor can we support the treatment that many young people are currently receiving at Centrelink, including Tuggeranong Centrelink office.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.