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Transcript of interview with ABC 891 Adelaide: 17 April 2012: Centrelink Statements

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Interview with ABC 891 Adelaide

17 April 2012

SUBJECT: Centrelink Statements

IAN HENSCHKE: But first to Kim Carr, Federal Human Services Minister, on an issue

that was raised by one of our listeners who's alarmed because they received - they said, a letter from the human services at Centrelink informing them that from June 2012 - this

year - they will no longer be able to receive future statements by post. Instead, all payments will be made online, and we have no choice in this matter.

And as many elderly citizens don't have a computer - they're not online - they were pretty concerned about it. They were also concerned about the fact that being online,

other people may have access to it.

Kim Carr, Federal Minister for Human Services joins us now. Good morning Kim Carr.

KIM CARR: Good morning.

IAN HENSCHKE: Now these pensioners are pretty concerned about this change. Are they right to be concerned?

KIM CARR: Well they're right to be concerned if it was true. But unfortunately some

rumours have been circulating which are not based on fact.

We are modernising the service. The Government is very keen to ensure that we are

able to improve the services that are offered to the millions of Australians that use Centrelink and use Medicare offices and use child support. And just like banks have been

doing in terms of putting your statements online, there is a big advantage in being able

to get up-to-date information and to be able to ensure that you've got the full details that are available to you.

But we will not be charging people to continue to receive statements in the mail. So you

still will be able to get a statement in the mail if you want it. And what we suggest to

people, if they want to do that, they can ring 132 468, or they can go to a local service centre for the department of human services. Or of course they can on the internet

register to have their statements mailed out to them.

IAN HENSCHKE: But this other point that was raised in this letter to us said that they

were concerned that if their banking details and all their data was there online, they were worried that this gives access to people. I mean, we hear a lot of talk about cyber

safety and cyber security, they were very concerned about the - not just the fact that it

could be hacked, but that other people that they don't want finding out the information could find it out.

KIM CARR: Well I'm not aware of any hacking that's gone on. Just like your bank

statements, these are highly secure ways of communicating information. So you have

security built into the system that protects individuals. However there is of course at the moment, arrangements in place whereby the Taxation Department does give people

information within government to make sure the information that is provided from one department to another is the same.

What we're trying to do is to encourage there to be one point of access for government

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so that there can be less confusion and make it easier for people to be able to get the services that they're entitled to.

IAN HENSCHKE: You said that there's been a lot of misinformation out there. I mean, a lot of people who don't have computers would be saying well look, I'm almost being

forced to go and get a computer. Are you worried about that?

KIM CARR: Well the world is modernising and it is the case that, however, if you don't

want to use a computer - can't use a computer, you can still get the information you need from your services - the Department of Human Services with the service centres.

You can also ring up, use the telephone to get the information that you need...


KIM CARR: ...and have that matter communicated to you by mail in the traditional way.

IAN HENSCHKE: Right. They did say though that if you do use the telephone, it's a long

and laborious process. Are you able to speed that up for them?

KIM CARR: Well we are seeking to improve our call centre operations. And we have a

dedicated line specifically for this purpose. And I'll repeat the number, it's 132 468.

IAN HENSCHKE: All right.

KIM CARR: Now this is an opportunity for people to actually improve the level of access,

to improve the information they have available, and to make sure that they can do things much more easily.

So once you get the hang of it, you'll find it actually makes life a lot easier for you. And if you don't want to use it, you'll still have your statements delivered by mail.

IAN HENSCHKE: Do you think you'll ever get to the stage where - we gave everybody a black box for their digital TV - do you think you'll give everybody a free computer one


KIM CARR: Oh no. Look, we are - we actually have a service at the moment where

we're trying to provide people with cheaper computers through a program.

Look, some people don't want to change the way they do business. But all around us there are ways of course of improving the way we live. And I think back, even in my

lifetime there's been great changes in the way in which people communicate. And I think

this is one of those areas where we can actually see an improvement for people if they want to use it. If they don't want to use it there's still services available to them.

IAN HENSCHKE: Okay. So the choice is still there. Thanks for your time this morning.

KIM CARR: No trouble at all.

IAN HENSCHKE: Kim Carr, Federal Human Service Minister on that Centrelink issue.

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