Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
I thank the member for his question. As the member knows, on 19 November last year I did a press conference to indicate that we were pausing all recovery for debts that had been raised by income averaging. The Attorney-General also made clear in the Insiders interview that income averaging is a longstanding practice of governments, going back decades. I went and checked, over the weekend, to see exactly how far back income averaging went. I asked the department to do a random sample of 500 debts raised—
If you could just pause for a second. Unlike the last question, this was one question, not two or three; I think there were three last time. It was a specific question. Whilst the minister is entitled to have a preamble, the preamble cannot be the answer. I ask him to direct himself to the question.
As I said, I announced to the public on 19 November that we would be pausing all recovery of debts that were raised either solely or partially by income averaging. To see how far the practice went back, to understand governments' consistent practice as to what they believed was sufficient, a random sample was undertaken, and—surprise, surprise—16 per cent of all debts in 2009 were raised through income averaging by those opposite, and 24 per cent in 2011—
I will just say to the minister: the question was very specific. I have enabled him to have a preamble. He's addressing the policy topic but he's not being directly relevant to the question that was asked. It was a very specific question. He can't seek to answer a question he wasn't asked. I ask the minister to bring himself back to the question.