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Wednesday, 16 June 2004
Page: 23906

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (2:08 PM) —My question is to Senator Patterson, the Minister for Family and Community Services. Can the minister confirm that more than 15,000 pensioners have received debts from the government totalling $39 million as the result of a pilot which data matches Centrelink income with a partner's taxable income? Can the minister confirm that, prior to the pilot, this data matching was not regularly done and that in many cases information provided by pensioners to Centrelink was not checked until recently? Minister, why are you slugging pensioners in cases where the mistakes are solely—I stress solely—the result of your failure to check the accuracy of payments for many years?