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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3386

Mr HAND(11.37) —I wish to make only a couple of brief comments because my time was interfered with last night. Like the shadow spokesperson, the honourable member for Barker (Mr Porter), I have a concern about clause 9. I make three brief points. I will ask the Minister a final question when I complete my comments on clause 9, but I ask him why the provision for the divulgence of information about a class of cases has been included. This appears to be completely negative to individual rights. I agree with some of the comments and concerns expressed, and the seeking of an explanation for this, by the shadow spokesperson. It seems to me that there is a problem with the divulgence of information crossing from one department to another. I hope it is not the intent of the Minister or the Government to cause a situation to occur in which perhaps unscrupulous people could seek information to use in an improper way. This is a concern that was expressed to me by a number of people in the course of last week.

Following an interjection from the Opposition earlier, I just make the point again that one of the reasons I am raising this is that people from all over Victoria have asked me to do so. So, it is not a question of concern being expressed in my electorate only; the concern has come from various agencies. Although the second reading debate has been closed, last night I wanted to address a couple of points relating to unemployment and sickness benefits, but I did not have time to raise them because my time was chopped off. As these measures are not to be implemented immediately, I seek from the Minister a guarantee to the House and the people of Australia that he and the Department will undertake extensive discussions with the existing agencies in all of the States, such as the Australian Council of Social Service, the Victorian Council of Social Service and other organisations, in order to seek to settle some of the concerns that people have in the lead-up to the implementation of these decisions by the Government. I genuinely make that plea to him, I think on behalf of many members on both sides of the House, that we get that commitment from the Government. I think many of the concerns that have been expressed in the course of the debate will then be put to rest, although that is not to say that people are enthusiastic about the decisions included in the Bill.