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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 667

Mr Abbott asked the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, in writing, on 10 November 2008:

(1)   Has the Government considered the potential impact of the Christmas bonus payments for pensioners (made as part of the Government’s $10 billion fiscal package) on remote indigenous communities; if so, on what date did she first receive specific advice on this issue, and what was the advice.

(2)   Has the Government considered making these payments in instalments in places such as Cape York and the Kimberley, as will be done in the Northern Territory under existing rules.

(3)   Why has the Government decided to pay these bonuses as lump sums when the Baby Bonus is now paid in instalments.

Ms Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   The Government considered the impact of the Economic Security Strategy payments on remote indigenous communities. In communities where income management was in place payments were managed through that process. That is, 100% of the lump sum was income managed. Income management covered both income support and family payments for those who met the relevant eligibility criteria. The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs worked at a state and local level to ensure service providers and government agencies working in communities were aware of the payments and made arrangements appropriate to that community.

(2)   The Government has managed the Economic Security Strategy payments through income management rather than instalment. People eligible for the Economic Security Strategy payments that were subject to income management in the Northern Territory, and the Cape York and the Western Australia Child Protection initiative, at the time of payment, have had their Economic Security Strategy payments income managed. People who were income managed negotiated with Centrelink as to how they wanted to allocate the funding towards meeting priority needs and other non-prohibited expenditures.

(3)   The purpose of the Economic Security Strategy is to boost the Australian economy. The Government made a decision to achieve this through targeted lump sum payments.