Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 9148


Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (15:53): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Defence (Senator Payne) to a question without notice asked by Senator Siewert today relating to the mygov website.

I noticed that, although we got some useful figures, we did not get an answer to the question that I asked about whether the government would delay implementing the harsher compliance measures until the issues with the systems that perhaps caused some cases of noncompliance.

Senator Payne: No.

Senator SIEWERT: I have just been told that 'no' is the answer. I have many more questions and quite a few concerns that I want to raise in terms of what people have been telling us about the myGov site beyond what was in the media recently. We need to make sure that there is a guaranteed protection for MyGov clients if the site fails and they cannot meet their participation requirements because of the site failing. Will the government agree that there needs to be protection in place for those that face potential breaches because of the failure of the myGov website?

The Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee just held an inquiry into job seeker compliance and the new harsher measures approach. I will refer to some evidence from Mrs King, who came to our inquiry as a witness from Willing Older Workers, or Wow! Mrs King was talking about the myGov website and the concerns that her members have. She said:

What we are hearing is that the site will say your password is incorrect. Then you get the secret questions that you give the answers to. I had trouble with it in my personal capacity; I also had trouble with it for WOW. WOW is registered with it as an association and I could never get into it. I tell people, 'Write down everything; write your secret questions and answers.' I did that and then I called the 1800 complaints number at Centrelink and said, 'Can you please help me get into this because I cannot get in.' As the only advocate that WOW has, I am the nominee for people. I could not even get in to read the nominee paperwork when I got an email to say there was a message. It is not working.

She went on to say:

I still cannot get into myGov either as a WOW advocate or as an individual. Last week, I had a woman tell me that she has given up on myGov. She tried routinely, every Monday and every Friday. She kept a record and she just said, 'I've given up on it. When they tell me to myGov, I just tell them, 'No, I won't. I refuse to.' She was told by her case manager that, if she gets a notice sent through there and does not respond to it, she can be in breach and can be fined. I honestly do not know what is wrong with the system.

Mrs King went on to talk about a person who had IT expertise who had come into their life. She said:

She helped put together all of the IT programs for job searching, scanning resumes and things back in the eighties. She has now written a book, and that is how we found her.

Ms King tabled a further document from this woman, and went on to say:

She addressed a lot of things. When we talked to her, someone asked her about myGov and what could be done with it. She told us that she would see if she could get into it, but she could not do anything and does not have any answers. She is a highly trained IT person. More and more, the government sending people online makes the assumption that people can afford the internet or can go to a local library or a hub and do everything on the internet there.

The point here is that more and more people—in fact, we heard eight million people—are going to the myGov site. That does not mean that it is a good system.

I am hearing constant complaints about people not being able to access myGov. There are concerns about myGov and the fact that they cannot answer the secret questions; that the secret questions change even when they know the answers; that their password does not work; and that the site is hard to navigate. And this is the system that people are required to use for their compliance requirements. The government is bringing in stricter compliance requirements and relying on the myGov site that does not work and does not provide the support that is necessary. People could end up getting a breach. In fact, people have told me that they have been breached because they have not been able to use the myGov site properly.

It is not fair to people on income support. They face losing their payments because the myGov site is not working. We had the example in the media this week where someone who totally relied on a payment would not be able to access that payment because of the myGov site. You cannot bring in these harsher measures if your system is not working and does not enable people to use it.

Question agreed to.