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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 30


Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:52): The Turnbull-Joyce government stands condemned for its treatment of Centrelink clients: the elderly, the sick, students, and people in genuine need of assistance. The government must restore Centrelink's resources. This is now becoming a crisis for too many people. The government also stands condemned for the way it has been pursuing people for so-called Centrelink debts. Many of these debts actually do not exist and many of them go back so far—in some cases in my electorate for seven years or more—and people are not in the position to challenge the debt. They no longer have the pay slips and the records from seven years ago. This must stop. Constituents in my electorate are getting letters from external debt collectors before being given any opportunity to respond, appeal or have the decision reviewed. This is a government out of control and dysfunctional. It is deceiving constituents on a regular basis. We just had the big backflip on the defence land grab in Queensland—something Barnaby Joyce said only last week was not happening. I congratulate Queensland graziers for the fight they took up to the government. It is a big backflip. Transparency must be the order of the day in the future. (Time expired)