Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Transcript: Transcript - 5AA Interview with Leon Byner

16 March 2020

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

LEON BYNER:                       

This next story with Government Services Minister Stuart Robert is extraordinary because the Federal Government is about to give $750 in one payment to - listen to this -797,000 South Australians. That's a lot of people. It affects and touches many. So we caught up with, a few minutes ago, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert.

[Excerpt]

Stuart Robert, thanks for joining us today. Can you give the people of SA - and there's a stack of them - that are going to receive a one-off payment of $750 - now, this is to hopefully get them to go out and buy stuff. And by the way, the information given to us from callers and e-mails last week is that's precisely what most of them will do. Does this have to go through the Parliament to get the go ahead before it can happen?

MINISTER:                

Yes, it does. It has to be legislated. Every indication from Parliament is that will be expedited next week. So my intent, subject to passage of law, is to start paying those 750 cheques from the 31 March, and I intend to have it all done by about the 17th of April.

LEON BYNER:                       

Alright. So just be clear, to which people are going to get this payment - this one-off $750?

MINISTER:                

It'll be to anyone who is currently receiving a government support payment. For example, family tax benefit, carers, ABSTUDY, Austudy, Newstart and the like, but it also includes anyone with a Veteran's entitlement and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card.

LEON BYNER:                       

So that's about, what, 6.5 million people across the country?

MINISTER:                

Yeah, give or take. Maybe a little higher - 6.8 million. That's about right.

LEON BYNER:                       

Yeah. So this will start happening from the end of this month.

MINISTER:                

That's right. From 31 March. So as soon as the law is passed, off I'll go. Though, there are some things I'll have to do beforehand. I'll get the entire set of data. I'll pass it through births, deaths and marriages, and into the states and territories. So, I limit the number of estates. So, payments going to people who are deceased and going to pets. I don't want to repeat the mistake that Labor did. But I'll be doing all of that from now and getting ready subject to that passage of law.

LEON BYNER:                       

So how was it, by the way, that money was going to pet? Because they wouldn't be on Centrelink benefits.

MINISTER:                

No. It's a sort of a [indistinct] way. If someone has passed away and left their estate to their animal, if [indistinct] could do a payment and someone has passed away, it goes to their estate. And if in their will, they have left it to their animal, that's how the money flows its way out. So-

LEON BYNER:                       

I was wondering about that.

MINISTER:                

So, in short, it did get to pets. So- but it would happen because people had deceased. So, the sensible public policy way is to actually update your data at the last possible moment to births, deaths and marriages.

LEON BYNER:                       

Now, just for the record, what is the Government hoping for as a result of this - that people go out and spend it?

MINISTER:                

Absolutely. Absolutely. We've got to keep consumption driving. There are so many small businesses out there that employ almost 50 per cent of Australians that are dependent upon consumption. We want to dispel fear. Now, whilst we understand people to socially distance, to be sensible and practice good hygiene, we still want people to, if they're well, to get out, connect, socialise, do all the things that you'd expect Australians to do, and that includes spending money.

LEON BYNER:                       

Alright. So, is this just step one or are we watching this to see how it goes before we make any decision about any further action?

MINISTER:

Treasurer's(*) made it clear that this is the initial, powerful, very large step, [indistinct] but the budget, of course, is still there and the Government reserves its right, as the health crisis that's turning into an economic challenge continues, that we may need to do further adjustments. But that's the beauty of the budget process. We can actually do that then if needed.

LEON BYNER:                       

So Minister, just for the record, people don't have to contact Centrelink or do anything? They'll get these payments automatically?

MINISTER:                

That's right. In fact, a really good point, Leon, because we've already seen some scammers out there sending email saying: hey, please update your details. Do this. People don't need to do anything at all. They'll get paid. If anyone is unsure as to whether their bank details are up to date, the best thing they can do is go on to myGov. You'll be able to go through myGov and update your details with Centrelink. So, otherwise, they don't need to do anything. I'm not going to email people, my department won't, to say: hey, reply with some details. There'll be none of that. We have the details on Australian citizens because we service them through health support, through Medicare and through Centrelink. Otherwise, if you're unsure, go to myGov.

LEON BYNER:                       

Alright. So, just to be clear, the payment goes in any time as of 31st or onwards. Now, if you don't get it on that day or the day after, it's still coming. You've opened up a couple of week window to ensure that all the money goes to where it's needed to.

MINISTER:                

That's right. So you don't want to pay everyone in a single day. Now, you potentially could. It's really bad banking practice because, remember, I've still got to continue to roll out a normal business as usual payment of about $210 billion per annum anyway…

LEON BYNER:                       

Yeah.

MINISTER:                

…on top of the normal stimulus payments. So you run these things in batches, over two weeks, to ensure the integrity of payment's going well; that recipient banks can receive it. And the good thing, of course, with banks that are on the new payment platform, like the Commonwealth Bank - I think Westpac is there as well - during the bushfires [indistinct] people being paid within 30 minutes of us hitting go button. It'll happen quickly but we'll stage it over two weeks.

LEON BYNER:                       

Minister, thank you for clarifying this. I know everybody was somewhat holding their breath as to who, what, when, where and why. We've had that answered. And again, I just want to point out, because there are scammers operating, if anybody gets a message purporting to be a government agency, asking you to update your details, view it with great cynicism.

MINISTER:                

Absolutely. Just ignore, dump it. It'll be a scam. We're not going to ask you to update your details in that way. If we do, it'll be through myGov to log into myGov. And again, we're never going to ask you for your password or credentials to myGov, so if someone is doing that, it's a scam.

[End of excerpt]

LEON BYNER:                       

That's Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert clarifying matters.

End         

Page last updated: 16 March 2020