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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2368

(Question No. 4992)

Mr Ruddock asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) Does the Australian Taxation Office use automatic envelope sealing facilities for dispatching income tax assessments and other confidential material, if so, does the equipment have faults which cause many items of mail to leave the Taxation Office unsealed.

(2) How many complaints are received by the Commissioner about mail being dispatched unsealed.

(3) Has the Commissioner reviewed the procedures to overcome the defects; if so, what did the review reveal.

Mr Keating —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) does utilise automatic envelope sealing equipment for the dispatch of income tax notices of assessment and other documentation. Items of a sensitive nature are manually sealed and returned to the taxpayer by registered mail. In a number of the ATO branch offices the sealing equipment has been in service for 9 or 10 years and in that time only a very small number of machine malfunctions which resulted in mail being dispatched unsealed have occurred.

(2) Although exact figures have not been maintained, complaints have been received in only three offices over the past two years. One of these offices had only one complaint in each year, another had approximately fifteen complaints in a six month period and the third approximately ten complaints over the two year period.

(3) As part of the offices quality control procedures scanning of envelopes after processing through the sealing equipment has been adopted in all offices. In addition, each machine is subject to a maintenance agreement providing for quarterly service calls and the attendance of a mechanic as the need arises. These procedures assisted in identifying that in two of the offices at which complaints had been received, the unsealed envelopes had resulted from poor quality glue or a lack of glue on the envelopes. The third office's complaints resulted from machine malfunctions and this machine is to be replaced during the current financial year.