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Ludwig's got no answers.

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Thu, 29th May 2008 LUDWIG'S GOT NO ANSWERS

Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Shadow Minister for Human Services

The capability of Senator Joe Ludwig has come into question this afternoon following the Human Services Minister's abysmal performance when presented with basic questions in relation to new programs within his own portfolio.

Coming under fire from Shadow Human Services Minister Helen Coonan today, the Minister attempted to sidestep an abundant number of questions, often appearing out of his depth.

But it was when questioned on the new national welfare card rollout that Senator Ludwig appeared completely lost.

He initially dodged questions relating to the implementation date and affected areas, by passing them off as responsibilities of the Department for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Unfortunately for Senator Ludwig, the administration of the card comes directly under Human Services and so Senator Coonan pressed the issue, which culminated in Senator Ludwig reading word for word off a piece of paper.

''You'd think the Minister for Human Services would be able to answer basic questions on a major rollout program within his own portfolio such as the national welfare debit card,'' Senator Coonan said.

''He is completely unaware of his portfolio's direct responsibilities.

''Whenever the questions get too hard, Senator Ludwig tries to dodge or pass the buck.

After persistent questioning of the Minister by Senator Coonan, a departmental official finally intervened and answered the question with ease.

''Why wasn't the Minister able to answer basic questions about the implementation date or affected areas that Centrelink's national welfare card covers?

''His performance today was just embarrassing.''