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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5228

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (17:18): On indulgence, I offer my congratulations to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs for pursuing this issue. It is an issue which has been pursued with the agreement and the cooperation of the relevant shadow minister on our side of the political divide, Senator Mitch Fifield, who has been pursuing this on our behalf and in a bipartisan fashion. We are with the government every step of the way in the implementation of this scheme, and we agree with the minister that it is long overdue. I am glad to see that today there was the agreement to establish the bipartisan committee to take this, post this parliament, into future parliaments, and I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, who is at the table, for doing that in the chamber today.

Minister, can I turn your attention to the income management trial sites, please. It is obviously an issue that the government has put some time and a fair portion of expenditure into in the last short time. In fairness, I will add that members of the Labor Party in government have pursued this issue. The member for Wakefield has made this point. He has areas in South Australia which have some long-term and difficult issues in relation to unemployment and generational unemployment. The member for Wakefield—I think it was two budgets ago—made some public comments in relation to the trialling of income management. I think the government has taken up some of his suggestions, and I am sure the minister will correct me if I am wrong there. Minister, how many people are being income managed at present in the respective trial sites? How many of these persons were placed on income management voluntarily, and how many were referred to you by Centrelink or state child protection authorities?

This is a slightly different strand of questioning: is the minister or the department aware of situations where the CPSU has been instructing Centrelink workers not to refer Centrelink customers; is the department or the minister aware that child protection workers represented by the PSA in New South Wales have placed an official ban on the implementation of income management; is the minister or the department aware that these workers have placed a ban on the implementation of income management in the relevant trial sites; has the minister or the minister's office, or the department, met with any members of the PSA in New South Wales to discuss their ban and if not why not; what action or response has the department undertaken in relation to those PSA workers who are refusing to enforce income management; and what action or response has the minister or her office, or the department—

Ms Macklin interjecting

Mr BRIGGS: The minister had a go at me for not asking questions, and so I am asking some questions. Maybe I am not seeing her enough to ask questions—I apologise. What action or response has the minister or the office, or the department, undertaken in relation to the PSA workers who are refusing to enforce income management? Finally, is it fair to say that this ban by the PSA would go some way to explaining why there have been so few people placed on income management in these trial sites?