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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 288

Centrelink


Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (14:45): My question is to the Prime Minister. Athol Heynatz lives in my electorate. He is a father, an Army veteran and the full-time carer of his son who, as a baby, lost his legs to meningococcal. Mr Heynatz was being chased by Centrelink's robo-debt system for about $930 that he did not owe. He was paying $15 a fortnight out of his carer payment while his case was being reviewed. Athol will lose hundreds of dollars because of the government's unfair cuts to family payments. Why is the Prime Minister hurting vulnerable Australians, like Athol, but sticking up for big business and the banks?

Mr Hill interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Member for Bruce will leave under 94(a).

The member for Bruce then left the chamber.



Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:45): I would be grateful if the honourable member would provide me with the details of his constituent's situation, and we will examine that in the same way the Minister for Human Services has examined the instance that was raised yesterday. I want to say to the honourable member, and to all honourable members, that our focus is on defending hardworking Australian families as they seek to get ahead. What we are presenting in our childcare package is affordable and available child care that will benefit a million Australians directly—Australians on lower and lower-middle incomes.

What we are doing with Centrelink, as the honourable member knows, is seeking to ensure that, for those who owe money to Centrelink through error or whatever, we are able to recover it. We do not seek to attribute any blame; we are simply raising discrepancies and asking people to respond to them. The minister dealt with, in good faith, the matter that the member for Barton raised with the House yesterday, and what was abundantly clear was that those circumstances were the result of human error, not the result of any computerised process. Human error always occurs, and the matter has been corrected. We are determined to ensure that the social welfare system is, above all, fair, and that we get the best outcomes for our social welfare investment.

Mr Gosling interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Solomon is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: That is what we are doing, and that is why our childcare reforms will deliver more affordable and more available child care to Australian families, with the greatest benefits accruing to those on lower and lower-middle incomes. That is providing the security that enables those Australian families—

Mr Gosling interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Solomon will leave under 94(a).

The member for Solomon then left the chamber.

Mr TURNBULL: to seize the opportunity of remaining in the workforce.