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Tuesday, 27 March 1984
Page: 753

(Question No. 640)

Senator Reid asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government, upon notice, on 16 December 1983:

(1) Were people who were queuing on Thursday, 15 December 1983 at the Department of Territories and Local Government rates offices at Civic and Woden turned away when the offices closed at 4 p.m.

(2) Were these long queues predictable given that the day was a public service payday, was the last day that instalment payments were due and given that the public is becoming increasingly aware that the Department of Territories and Local Government is enforcing its policy that, if instalment payments are not paid on time, the right to pay rates by instalments, rather than by lump sum, will be lost.

(3) Are there boxes in the Civic, Woden and Belconnen rates offices where rate payments can simply be dropped without having to wait in queues to be served by the cashier.

(4) Why did the Department of Territories and Local Government rates offices not stay open until the people standing in the queues were able to make their rate payments or why were those people standing in the queues not advised that it was not necessary to queue and that they could drop their payments in the boxes provided for just that purpose.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Territories and Local Government has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) No. At 4 p.m. a departmental officer in each office stood at the end of the queue and latecomers were turned away. Latecomers with cheques were offered the opportunity of leaving them with the officer for later receipting.

(2) No. Similar circumstances have existed on previous due dates but delays such as those experienced on 15 December 1983 have not previously occurred.

(3) Yes. Boxes are provided at these offices for ratepayers to leave cheque payments. The box at Civic is accessible after normal business hours.

(4) Ratepayers standing in queues at 4 p.m. were not turned away. Woden office processed payments until approximately 4.40 p.m., Civic until 4.20 p.m. and Belconnen and Dickson until 4.30 p.m.

In addition staff were utilised in each office to walk along queues advising ratepayers of the location of cheque boxes and taking cheques from ratepayers who were willing to have a receipt sent out to them at a later date.