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Notice given 5 February 2004

*2530  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—

(1) Is the Minister aware of a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald , published on 30 October 2003, in which Mr Daryl Wood of Lewisham questions Centrelink’s advice to him about payments to same-sex partners.

(2) Does Centrelink regard same-sex relationships as being de facto relationships for the purposes of determining eligibility for Newstart Allowance;

(3) Are there are any circumstances in which Centrelink gives regard to same-sex relationships when determining eligibility for payments, allowances or any other benefits provided by the agency.

(4) Does Centrelink gather any information on same-sex relationships from its customers.

(5) Does Centrelink take any action when information on same-sex relationships is discovered or volunteered by customers; if so, what action is taken.

(6) Does Centrelink provide any advice to customers in same-sex relationships with regard to payments and living arrangements; if so, what advice is provided.

(7) Does the Minister consider the advice provided by Centrelink to Mr Wood, which prevented him being eligible for Newstart Allowance on the basis of his same-sex relationship being considered a de facto relationship, to be correct.

*2531  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—With reference to changes to the income reporting requirements for Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients that came into effect on l September 2003:

(1) Can the Minister provide further details of the circumstances surrounding the approximately 400 DSP recipients referred to in the 2003-04 Budget estimates supplementary hearings of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee ( Hansard , 6 November 2003, p. 106) who have had their payments stopped, suspended or interrupted; and details concerning the 49 persons who have had their payments cancelled since the new measures came into effect.

(2) Is the Minister aware that contrary to advice provided in the supplementary estimates hearings ( Hansard , 6 November 2003, p. 106), that pension paydays or income reporting days may be changed, these days currently cannot be changed for people whose financial affairs are managed by the Public Trustee.

(3) (a) How many DSP recipients have their financial affairs managed by the Public Trustee; (b) how many of the 34 000 DSP recipients referred to during the supplementary estimates hearings, who are now required to report their income fortnightly, also have their financial affairs managed by the Public Trustee; and (c) have any of those who payments have been suspended been in this category.

(4) Will the Minister investigate alternative strategies, and advise of what steps will be taken to ensure those relying on the Public Trustee are not prevented from simplifying their income reporting requirements.

Senator Harris: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos *2532-*2533)—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1392 (Senate Hansard , 16 June 2003, p. 11578):

(1) Given that the answer to part 1 of the question states that: ‘This legislation states that the Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services has general administration of the Registration and Collection Act and the Assessment Act’, and that part 7 of the answer provides that, ‘The Australian Taxation Office has provided the Attorney-General with the following information’:

(a) is the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) a legal entity;

(b) is the ATO a valid Commonwealth entity or authority;

(c) who is the individual responsible for the actions of the ATO;

(d) what statute gives effect to the ATO exercising powers or authority of its own accord; and

(e) is the ATO an entity that can sue or be sued or be prosecuted.

(2) If the answers to paragraphs (1)(a) or (b) are no:

(a) why was information in part 7 of the answer concerning the powers exercised by the Commissioner of Taxation provided by the ATO and not the Commissioner of Taxation;

(b) is the Commissioner of Taxation responsible for the information given by the ATO;

(c) who has portfolio responsibility for the Commissioner of Taxation;

(d) who had portfolio responsibility for the Commissioner of Taxation on 8 May 2002; and

(e) will the responsible minister now instruct the Commissioner of Taxation to take responsibility for any questions answered or information provided in relation to answers given by the ATO.

(3) Given that prior to the amendments removing the Commissioner of Taxation from section 10(2), section 11 of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 stated, that ‘The Registrar has general administration’:

(a) does the statement to ‘the Commissioner of Taxation delegated powers referred to him’, in part 7 of the answer to the question refer to the Office of Commissioner of Taxation delegating powers or the person who also held the position of Commissioner of Taxation delegating powers;

(b) did section 11 have any effect other than nomination and in particular, did it provide that the powers of Commissioner of Taxation were conferred on the Registrar;

(c) did the Office of Commissioner of Taxation have general administration powers (please answer yes or no);

(d) were the powers of the Commissioner of Taxation available to the Child Support Registrar whilst the Registrar exercised general administration of the Child Support Acts prior to the amendment Act;

(e) did any person, other than a person engaged as the Registrar or a Deputy Registrar, act under an Instrument of Authorisation before 24 December 1998; if so, who was the person (or persons) and can evidence of the Instruments of Authorisation be provided; and

(f) given that Catherine Argall signed documents in authorising the exercise of powers under the Child Support Acts prior to 24 December 1998, did she have an Instrument of Authorisation before that date.

(4) Given that the answer to part 6 of the question was yes:

(a) has the Attorney-General advised or instructed the Federal Privacy Commissioner in accordance with the undertaking given; if so, what action has the Federal Privacy Commissioner taken in relation to the guidelines; and

(b) if the Federal Privacy Commissioner has taken no action, what action has the Attorney-General taken in relation to the Federal Privacy Commissioner’ refusal or failure to amend the guidelines.

*2532 Minister representing the Prime Minister

*2533 Minister representing the Attorney-General