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JOINT MEDIA RELEASE - Services Australia officials recalled for Senate Estimates
THE HON PAUL FLETCHER MP
Federal Member for Bradfield
Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts
Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy
Manager of Opposition Business in the House
Senator Kerrynne Liddle
Shadow Minister for Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence
Senator for South Australia
Senator Maria Kovacic
Senator for New South Wales
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
2 November 2023
Services Australia officials recalled for Senate Estimates
In an extraordinary move, Services Australia officials will be forced to return to Senate Estimates after the Community Affairs Legislation Committee resolved to recall the struggling agency to face questions.
Shadow Minister for Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence Senator Kerrynne Liddle and Senator for New South Wales Maria Kovacic joined with Senator Janet Rice to bring officials back following the agency failing to answer basic questions about its operations during the initial Senate Estimates sessions on Wednesday, 25 October.
The additional hearing will take place on Tuesday, 7 November.
Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy, Paul Fletcher, said the decision to recall Services Australia was a win for transparency.
“Under Government Services Minister Bill Shorten, Service Australia has become a basket case with massive blowouts in wait times for payments and calls,” Mr Fletcher said.
“Bill Shorten has been eager to minimise scrutiny of the deteriorating conditions at the agency because it exposes the sad reality that he just does not care about customer service.”
Shadow Minister for Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence Senator Kerrynne Liddle said vulnerable Australians depend on this vital agency.
“In the middle of a cost of living crisis, it is essential that the performance of Services Australia is appropriately scrutinised by the Australian Parliament,” Senator Liddle said.
“Labor’s sky-rocketing payment processing times are hitting the most vulnerable Australians, many who may be victims of family and domestic violence.
“Scrutinising exactly how Services Australia is addressing these serious issues must be a priority.”
Senator for New South Wales Maria Kovacic said Services Australia’s performance at the previous round of Senate Estimates was unacceptable.
“As a new Senator, it was my first time asking questions to officials and government Ministers – I was astounded and very disappointed by the stonewalling and obfuscation,” Senator Kovacic said.
“Simple questions were asked, such as what the status was of key ICT projects, and the officials were unable – or unwilling – to provide the requested information.
“Recalling Services Australia officials has not been done lightly, but we must hold the government to account and ensure there is transparency on behalf of the Australian people as they struggle with a cost of living crisis.”
Ahead of the hearing, Opposition Senators will again write to the Acting CEO of Services Australia, Mr Chris Birrer, to provide advance notice about lines of questioning.
Mr Fletcher: William Spence – 0438 206 222 (Will Sparling on leave)
Senator Liddle: (08) 8232 1144
Senator Kovacic: (02) 8289 9770