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Thursday, 28 June 2012
Page: 4935


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (22:28): It is fair to say that I have no briefing on our engagement with Green Left Weekly on the issue, nor many of the other—

Senator Rhiannon: I rise on a point order. That is really out of order, Minister. That is one organisation out of 57. At least you should be respectful of these organisations. That makes things worse.

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Rhiannon, that is a debating point. There is no point of order. The minister has the call.

Senator CHRIS EVANS: I did not mean to arouse such sensitivity. I was just indicating that I was not aware of the engagement with Green Left Weekly nor with some of the South Australian or ACT groups. We have been focused on the recipients and the businesses in Bankstown who are directly impacted by the trial, as we have been focused in Cannington on the people directly impacted by the trial. But I understand that the department has had a series of meetings with interested groups about these issues and has a consultation process. But I am sure that in each of the trial areas the focus has been on groups who are in those areas—not interstate and not more broadly but with those who have a presence in the trial area. We are engaging with the people who are on income management in those areas and with the community groups who are servicing those people by providing financial advice and other support services and we are engaging with the shops who provide goods. I understand 75 shops or businesses have signed up to participate in income management in the Bankstown area and I think a large percentage of those can already access the BasicsCard through EFTPOS. I think more broadly in New South Wales there are about 1,500 shops that can accept the BasicsCard. There is community engagement with interested groups through the department. But, as I said, the focus is not on those groups; it is on the clients, the people participating in providing access to the BasicsCard and obviously on the groups like the support services, the advice services and the financial services that assist people who are having difficulty making ends meet or surviving on social security payments. So that is where the focus is. As to whether all of the groups Senator Rhiannon read out have engaged with the department on these issues, I am not aware, but I can provide you details on notice of the community engagement processes the department has followed.