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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 28


Mr HART (Bass) (13:45): This government fails to understand or does not wish to understand the stress and anxiety it is imposing on ordinary Australians—ordinary workers who are doing the right thing to obtain full-time or part-time employment and leave the Centrelink system. Labor supports a system which properly supervises our pensions and entitlements system. Labor supports proper support of our public servants, who are faced with implementing, in this case, a flawed system. The public's faith and confidence in good administration involves properly resourcing our public service and designing systems that fulfil that public purpose. This government either does not care or has purposefully created a system which is harsh and uncaring in order to maximise the recovery of overpayments, whilst blind to the central question as to whether there is, in fact, an overpayment.

There are personal stories when you go out into an electorate like Bass, which is beset with disadvantage. People have contacted my office about an unfair repayment plan, a plan entered into before the debt was even acknowledged as having been properly incurred and a data matching system which is based upon flawed assumptions—a classic case of garbage in, garbage out.

There are real lives involved and real stress which is causing harm. There are real people who do not deserve the stress and anxiety associated with lengthy calls to Centrelink offices with extended wait times. There are suggestions that Centrelink staff are being directed to not provide assistance where in many cases they have already done the right thing to ensure compliance. This is not proper administration or good governance. (Time expired)