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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1724

Senator Baume asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

(   1 ) Has the Department of Social Security's 168/370 IBM Computer only been in operation since April.

(2)   Has the health insurance scheme proposed by the Labor Government not yet been introduced.

(3)   What is the computer being used for.

(4)   Is the computer being used full-time or is the computer's capacity being wasted.

(5)   What use will the computer be put to in the event of long delay in the implementation of the Government's health insurance program.

(6)   If the computer is not now in use, will the Minister explain why it was necessary to by-pass normal tendering procedures and have the computer ordered on a 'certificate of inexpediency'.

Senator Wheeldon - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   The IBM 370/168 computer successfully completed acceptance testing on 6 May 1974 and has been used for Departmental processing since 7 May 1 974.

(2)   The proposed Health Insurance Scheme has not yet been introduced.

(   3 ) The computer is being used for:

(a)   Development of the Health Insurance data processing system;

(b)   Central development and maintenance of the Social Security benefits data processing systems operating on State based computers;

(c)   Processing of Health Insurance statistics relating to the existing scheme;

(d)   Processing of statistical analyses of Social Security benefits;

(e)   Evaluation, development and maintenance of special and general-purpose software to support all Departmental computer systems;

(   f) Development of Management Information Systems;

(g)   Assistance to other Departments in Canberra requiring access to computer facilities.

(4)   The computer is being used eight hours each working day.

(5)   The use to which the computer would be put in the event of a long delay in the implementation of the Health Insurance Program would be reviewed by the Department in the light of work priorities for computing requirements at that time.

(   6 ) As already stated, the computer is in use. I would point out that had it not been for the frustration of the Opposition in the Senate, the Health Insurance Program would have been introduced on 1 July this year and the computer would have been in full use. Any criticism, therefore, of underutilisation of the computer must be and can be properly directed solely against the behaviour of the Opposition in the Senate.

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