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Nugent slams Government interference in family life



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PETER NUGENT

Federal Member for Aston

MEDIA

RELEASE SHADOW MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRFS STRAIT ISLANDER AFFAIRS NUGENT SLAMS GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE IN FAMILY LIFE

Speaking in Parliament today Member for Aston, Peter Nugent, pointed to the unacceptable levels of Government interference in the daily lives of Australian families.

Citing the most recent example of Labor's "we know best" attitude, Mr Nugent told Parliament the story of Aston residents, Mr and Mrs Thomas of Knoxfield who arrived home one weekend to find a calling card from the ABS under their door. The card requested that the Thomas' make an appointment to discuss a survey, which they dutifully arranged for the following Saturday afternoon.

A female employee from the ABS arrived to advise that the Thomas' had been chosen to take part in a household expenses survey which required them to itemise all their purchases, receipts for a full month.

This was the first of a series of intrusive, high-handed demands by ABS personnel including:

• A 11/2 hour Saturday session with the ABS interviewer

• The provision of a diary for both Mr and Mrs Thomas to record every expenditure and receipt for one week

• The interviewer would return the following weekend to collect week one's diary, go through their entries at length and furnish the Thomas' with a replacement

• The "diary" consisted of around 20 pages which sought the most detailed and precise information.

• Expenditure items to be listed included newspapers, break, credit card accounts, parking meters - even the children's pocket money.

• In addition to straight income and expenditure items, were requests for where items were purchased - whether a corner store, supermarket or over the back fence - and even demanded information on size and weight of some purchases. COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY ...2/ MICAH

For further information contact Peter Nugent on 03-887 3890 or 06-277 2088

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As Mr Thomas runs his own small business and Mrs Thomas works outside the home, they genuinely believed the ABS requirements far too much for them to manage. ABS told them they had no choice - they were required to participate by law.

When inquiring as to the penalty for non-compliance, the interviewer could not or would not inform them of a penalty.

"In sheer frustration the Thomas' approached my office but the ABS was no more helpful, restating that law required compliance. Again the ABS refused to state a penalty for non-compliance.

"It seems that what we have actually done here is not only impose on people's privacy in asking for unreasonable detail of information, but to threaten people with punishments which we are not even prepared to publicly define. We are also denying their member of parliament information when he seeks it openly and honestly.

"This invasion of privacy is totally unacceptable and the law which allows it should be changed", Mr Nugent concluded.

7/94 3 February 1994

For further information contact Peter Nugent on 03-887 3890 or 06-277 2088