Michelle Lensink

Self-Funded Retirees

A question put forward to the Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation)about concessions for self-funded retirees.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, representing the Minister for Ageing, a question about concessions for self-funded retirees.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Last Monday, 29 March, the commonwealth made an offer to the states of $75 million to extend pensioner concessions to self-funded retirees. The offer to South Australia is $4.6 million, which is 60 per cent of the cost of providing the concessions, and the state is being asked to contribute the other 40 per cent. The total potential benefit for a South Australian self-funded retiree for concessions on their council rates, water and sewerage, energy and motor vehicle registration is $574. In the Auditor-General’s 2002-03 report several concerns were expressed about the state government’s administration of the existing scheme for pensioners, as follows:

The audit of concessions payments for a number of years has highlighted that the department has not implemented appropriate documented agreements with the parties providing concessions which detail the respective roles, responsibilities and terms of arrangements.

It is Audit’s view that an effective control environment requires the establishment of formal agreements between the government and service providers. Audit Review found that the department continued work in establishing formal agreements, however, at the time of the audit the formal agreements had yet to be executed. . . Audit reviewed proposed changed arrangements for processing benefit claims and established that it is proposed that beneficiaries’ entitlement to concessions are to be assessed and approved over the phone. This process does not provide for verification of entitlement before the concession is provided. Audit considers this creates a risk that concessions will be provided to claimants who are not entitled to the concession. The department advised that while this could create a risk there are procedural checks to mitigate the potential for fraud.

It goes on to talk about data matching and legal issues relating to a contract with Centrelink which would assist with the elimination of fraud. My questions to the minister are:

1. Will the government accept the commonwealth’s offer to extend concessions to self-funded retirees?

2. Has the commonwealth raised concerns with the state government regarding its administration of the scheme?

3. Has the government fully addressed the Auditor-General’s concerns with the administration of the existing scheme?

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I will refer those important questions to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.

 

Monday 19 July 2004

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (31 March).

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Families and Communities has advised:

1. Will the government accept the commonwealth’s offer to extend concessions to self-funded retirees?

The Government is considering the new Commonwealth offer and is intending to enter into negotiations with the Commonwealth.

The Government will make a final decision following detailed negotiations with the Commonwealth.

2. Has the commonwealth raised concerns with the state government regarding its administration of the scheme?

No. The State Government is responsible for the administration of State Government concessions and is not accountable to the Commonwealth for the way in which it runs its own programs.

3. Has the government fully addressed the Auditor-General’s concerns with the administration of the existing scheme?

A contract has been signed between Centrelink and Family and Youth Services (FAYS) for electronic confirmation of eligibility for concessions. When fully operational, proof of eligibility will be able to be satisfied at FAYS district centres without individual clients having to go back and forth between FAYS and Centrelink.

Staff training on the administration of the existing scheme has also commenced.

 

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