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Gender-bending Centrelink.

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Kelvin Thomson MP

Shadow Minister for Public Accountability Shadow Minister for Human Services 16/05/06

Gender-bending Centrelink

Centrelink’s senior IT development manager, Helen Duke, has revealed that close to 1000 Centrelink customers had their genders changed by sloppy data entry.

According to Ms (or is that Mr) Duke in an address to a data quality conference last month:

“We discovered that about 400 people who are male had Ms in their title and 450 women had Mr in their title.”

“I shudder to imagine the shock of these customers when they discovered that the Federal Government had reversed their birth gender,” Shadow Minister for Human Services Kelvin Thomson said.

“If they were married, they would have been scratching their heads knowing that having prohibited same-sex marriage, this Government had now placed them in one.

“It is also quite foreseeable that this error may have resulted in customers having much needed payments stripped from them,” he said.

Ms Duke also gave a worrying foretaste of what could go wrong with the Government’s Smartcard when she said:

“Even if you get all the technology right, people could still screw it up.”

“With hundreds of millions of data fields to be entered for the Government’s Smartcard, the potential for bureaucrats to ‘screw it up’ is immense,” Mr Thomson said.

“No matter what the name of this card, it can only be as smart as the people entering the data.

“The Howard Government will need to do better than this if its billion-dollar Smartcard is not to become a billion dollar bungle.”

Media Contact: Kelvin Thomson 0419 594 882 Patrick Pantano 0403 502 071