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Tuesday, 7 October 2003
Page: 20757

Mr Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 20 August 2003:

(1) What was the sum of outstanding child support debt in each of the financial years ended (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000, (e) 2001, (f) 2002, and (g) 2003.

(2) What is the sum of child support debt that the Child Support Agency (CSA) has failed to collect.

(3) Has any of the child support debt owed to the CSA been written off; if so, (a) how much, and (b) for what reasons.

(4) Is the CSA adequately resourced to discharge its functions; if not, why not.

(5) What is the Government doing to ensure that child support entitlements are paid and received on time.

Mr Anthony (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The cumulative value of gross maintenance child support debt for each year between 1997 and 2003 is:

(a) $516.6 million by June 1997

(b) $544.3 million by June 1998

(c) $582.8 million by June 1999

(d) $634.7 million by June 2000

(e) $669.7 million by June 2001

(f) $758.7 million by June 2002

(g) $844.1 million by June 2003

These figures are cumulative, that is they represent the total value of child support debt at the end of each year since the Scheme commenced operation in 1988. The figures for 2001 and subsequent years also include child support liabilities that are being collected on behalf of other countries.

(2) The CSA had not collected $844.1 million out of a total $14.3 billion in child support liabilities as at the end of June 2003. This means that 5.9 per cent of liabilities have not been collected since Scheme inception.

(3) The above amounts are the total amounts owed without any write-offs or any allowance for bad or doubtful debts.

(4) Yes, the CSA is funded in line with a funding agreement with the Department of Finance. That agreement provides funding in line with the growth in cases. The agreement expires in June 2004.

(5) To address the growth in debt and to streamline and strengthen the services CSA delivers to parents, a National Collection Strategy was developed in 2002-03. The strategy brings a stronger focus to CSA collections and debt reduction activities.

Furthermore, the additional funding of $31 million over four years announced in the recent budget will give the CSA increased resources to collect this child support. It is expected that over 105 000 children will benefit from the measure as an additional $130 million of child support is anticipated to be transferred from non-compliant payers through intensive collection activity.