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Gas assistance funding shambles.

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Kelvin Thomson MP

Member for Wills


18 December, 1998.




Federal Member for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, has attacked the Federal Government’s handling of the Gas Assistance — Material Aid program as “an utter sha mbles”.


‘In my electorate of Wills we have seen hundreds of people queuing for hours, only to have their applications for $50 rejected. Police have been called as a result.


‘This is simply not good enough, and is a direct result of the secrecy with which the Gas Assistance Program, which is scheduled to close today, has been handled.


‘No information has been provided to Members of Parliament, local newspapers or other community organisations about the way in which this money is to be distributed.


‘As a result the people who apply are those who hear about it in the grapevine, and of course it becomes the subject of rumour. Within the Coburg Italian Community there developed the view that all pensioners with gas appliances were entitled to the $50.


‘Clearly this situation leads to money being handed out in an arbitrary way, with many people missing out because they were unaware of the relief, while others get money who don’t really need it.


‘Prime Minister Howard was happy to announce, the day before the Federal Election, that “the Commonwealth Government will provide up to $100 million to assist Victorians who have suffered significant hardship as a result of the interruption to gas supplies”.


‘The administration of this program, however, has been a disgrace, conducted largely in secret.’


Mr Thomson called on the Government to extend the deadline beyond today, and to make available to the media and to community groups the criteria by which applications for assistance were being judged.


For Further Information:

Kelvin Thomson MP Phone: 9350 5777 Mobile: 0419 594882 Home: 9354 2898