House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Pensions and Benefits

3:31 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | Hansard source

We know that income support payments are determined on a fortnight-by-fortnight basis but the ATO use annualised data.

So in 1994 this letter tells me if this citizen did not reply to this letter, the government of the day—in this case the Keating government—will use the tax office information which is not fortnightly, it is annualised. The tax office doesn't have fortnightly information, it's only got annualised. We will use this annualised information about your income and we'll write to you about how much money you need to pay back. How in 1994 could the Keating government write to someone about how much money they had to pay back on their Newstart fortnightly by using the ATO's income data? They did it by income averaging. Hence, why income averaging, which is the basis upon which the Commonwealth has reached agreement with Labor's lawyers and which this MPI is about, goes back 26 years. That fact is not in dispute, and the documentation shows it clearly. Hawke, 'Richo', Keating—that's the genesis of data matching; that's the genesis of using averaged ATO information.

Then it continued. In 1998 the 1990 bill was updated. The Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax Amendment) Bill 1998 No. 2 replaced the 1990 bill. And what did Wayne Swan have to say about it on 25 November 1998? He said the bill:

… seeks to make the data-matching program a permanent feature of the social security system, and the opposition welcomes this.


The Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act of 1990 gave effect to measures announced in the 1990-91 budget. Now, of course, the government does not seek to highlight that fact. This Labor initiative introduced a method for detecting inconsistent payments—


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