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Thursday, 17 April 1980
Page: 1554

Senator COLSTON (QUEENSLAND) -The Minister for Social Security will recall that on Tuesday she answered questions from Senator Melzer in relation to the withdrawal of money from pensioners' bank accounts. I refer to a Mr and Mrs Colledge, whose case has been widely reported in the Brisbane media. I ask the Minister whether the Department of Social Security withdrew $330 from the Colledges' account. Were the Colledges advised of the Department's action in accordance with section 135w (5) of the Social Services Act? Were all other procedures correctly followed in this case and what action has been taken in Brisbane to ensure that the provisions of section 135w(5) and the related departmental instructions will be followed in the future?

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle (VICTORIA) - I am not aware of the facts in regard to the Brisbane media and the case that has been mentioned by Senator Colston. I did refer to this matter in relation to statements made by Senator Melzer last week, and the matter was discussed also in Senate Estimates Committee C. I will need to check the statements that were made with regard to the Queensland pensioners. I assure the Senate that officers of my Department are aware of the section in the Act and its requirements. I tabled in this place the manual of instructions for the administration of that section, and I stated that I would want to know if there was any departure from those arrangements.

If as a result of the inquiries I will make following this statement from Senator Colston I find that there has been a departure from the provisions of the Act and the requirements of our administrative instructions, I will see that appropriate action is taken. I assure the Senate that steps have been taken in the Department to acquaint all officers of the requirements of that section and of our administrative arrangements. 1 hope that no officer in the Department would ignore those instructions. If any misunderstanding arises in the Department, I would expect senior officers to ensure that all arrangements are adhered to, as the administrative manual requires.

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