Monday, 3 June 2013
He was working for a number of ministers in the Howard government, and I think he was in IR. He would have received a number of ministerial briefs. He would have received a number of incoming parliamentary secretary or ministerial briefs which would have set out clearly the responsibilities. If you think that the minister, an experienced senator who has been in the Senate for such a long time, does not understand her portfolio responsibilities, then you are kidding yourself, member for Mayo. Of course someone as experienced a politician as Senator McLucas, the Minister for Human Services, knows very well her responsibilities.
It is interesting the fixation and obsession with a letter; nothing about the $157 billion he referred to in relation to the money that goes into the pay packets into the accounts of Australians—no questions about that; questions only about one piece of paper. He asked me the question: does Senator McLucas know about her responsibilities? Of course she does. She knows, and he should stop playing politics about this, because Senator McLucas is getting on with her role as Minister for Human Services.
I think it is important that we focus on what those roles are. I mentioned before in relation to—and he raised a question about her responsibilities; I am happy to talk about them. It is about administering a department that provides assistance to Australians each and every day.
The shadow parliamentary secretary mentioned the things they do: supporting over four million Centrelink and Medicare child support program customers is important in Australian government services online in a year. He wanted to know about her responsibilities. It is about doing that: administering a department that does that. It is about administering a department that manages some two million online transactions from Centrelink every week—that is what her responsibilities are: administrating a department that does that. It is about new services. He mentioned before in one of his questions the kind of technologies that are applying. The new service myGov became operational on 26 May 2013, enabling people to set up their own unique user account to subscribe to various services across the portfolio—that is what her role is: administering that department that does those sorts of things. And she knows very well her responsibilities in that regard.
There is also the work that is being done in relation to crisis management. If you had been around the country, member for Mayo, you would have seen where there are fires, floods and cyclones. You would have seen people in dark green T-shirts with Centrelink writing across it. And they would be administering things like disaster income recovery payments, payments that help people in their crisis, people whose homes have been flooded or burnt down. That is what the department does. And the minister is administering the type of department that provides that disaster relief.
And it has not been an easy year. You would think that the member for Mayo would realise that 2013 has been a tough year across Australia. You would think that he might ask questions in relation to what the department does in relation to disaster management. But, no, he is fixated with one particular letter. The member for Mayo should think clearly in relation to that. He should be focusing on helping families. That is what the department does and that is what the minister does; helps families through the department but there are no questions about that whatsoever.