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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 816


Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (11:01): I move:

That this House:

(1) congratulates the Government for pursing an extensive technology reform agenda that will change the way Australians interact with Government services for the better;

(2) recognises the:

(a) actions the Government is taking to renew Centrelink's aging information technology system through the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation program, which will improve the user experience for the many Australians who access these services each week, and ensure the long term sustainability of our welfare system;

(b) actions the Government is taking to upgrade and modernise the health and aged care payment system, and improve the services offered by Medicare to all Australians; and

(c) investment the Government is making in digital services such as myGov, to further improve this service which is now used by more than ten million Australians; and

(3) congratulates the Government on pursuing a courageous reform agenda which is sorely needed to correct six successive years of under-investment by Labor.

The world has changed, and the coalition is ensuring that government services change with it. The Prime Minister has been at the forefront of spreading digital innovation in Australia for more than two decades. The PM's success in business came from his recognition that the future lay in digital communications and from his peerless ability to encourage the growth and expansion of the medium in our country. It is, therefore, no surprise that it is this coalition government which has put innovation at the centre of its agenda.

Those opposite call themselves progressives, but the real progress is happening out there in the community and in small businesses, where emerging technology is changing the way that people live their lives every day. Through six years of Labor government, while the number of internet users in Australia rose from seven million to more than 12 million and while Facebook and Twitter grew and new platforms like Snapchat and Instagram were launched, Labor shut their eyes and pretended that none of it was happening. The Australian people did not close their eyes, however. What they saw was six years of Labor underinvestment and neglect.

In contrast, under the coalition, take-up of the myGov platform has doubled every year. With more than 10 million accounts, the service now has 10 times more users than the UK equivalent. Already, the success of the myGov platform under this government has saved the taxpayer more than $100 million in postage alone. The Prime Minister and the government, however, are not satisfied with this success and will always push for further improvements. That is why we are investing a further $50 million to update security, improve the digital mail service and further improve user experience. This kind of constant improvement is what the Australian people rightly expect from their digital service providers, and this government is delivering.

Medicare transactions are, of course, one of the most common ways that average Australians interact with the government. Under the coalition's improvements, 97 per cent of all Medicare transactions can now be completed with no action from the citizen beyond swiping their card at the doctor's clinic. In the case of those surgeries that will not install a card machine, the government has created a Medicare app that patients can use to transmit their information for processing in real time. Perhaps the most important action the government is now taking is the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation—or the WPIT—Program. Put simply, this is the biggest improvement in how Australians interact with Centrelink in a generation. The system will be built across the next five years and will deliver a digital claims process, simpler processing and greater sharing of information. It will meet Australians' expectations for a 21st-century user experience.

The example of youth allowance applications illustrates what a dramatic difference this system will make. Currently, a student applying for youth allowance can make their application online, but, once their application is submitted, it disappears into an administrative vacuum for more than five weeks. The only way to check the status of an application is to telephone a call centre. That process costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year. At the end of this opaque process, two students in every 10 are informed that the application has been rejected for a simple and avoidable reason. Each rejection costs the taxpayer $28, but there are nearly 100,000 of these every year. In the future, due entirely to the government's reform agenda and the WPIT, students will be able to track their application online and many will know in real time if their application has been approved. The Centrelink system will interact automatically with relevant databases, while more errors in applications will be instantly picked up. Eventually the system will even automatically update payments if a student's circumstances change. The savings to the taxpayer and improvements for users will be considerable. The government will continue to pursue an extensive technology reform agenda and has taken action to embed this agenda for the future. The Digital Transformation Agency set up by the Prime Minister when he was Minister for Communications is still part of his personal portfolio and will provide strategic and policy leadership in this area in the years to come.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Buchholz ): Is there a seconder for the motion?

Mr Falinski: I second the motion and I reserve my right to speak.