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Employment Wages on Basics Cards

Community Affairs 25 February 2011

Senator SIEWERT—Senator Scullion, if you have finished that line of questioning, can I go back to this issue about workers being paid on BasicsCard and the SIHIP and CDEP issues I raised in the Senate a while ago. Minister, as I understand it, there was an investigation going on to look into the issue and I am wondering—

CHAIR—Senator, the BasicsCard people have gone.

Senator SIEWERT—I know, but it relates to employment.

Mr Tongue—Senator, are you referring to Kalkarindji and the store voucher issue?

Senator SIEWERT—No. There are issues around Santa Teresa and I cannot remember the other communities. The issues there were about how much workers were being paid, whether there were workers on CDEP working alongside workers who were getting paid differently and workers were not getting time sheets. There were a whole range of issues, including claims that people were working full time and receiving their wages on BasicsCard.

Mr Tongue—It is quite complex on the ground and I think one of the areas we could do better with communities is in explaining the interaction—so somebody on CDEP and, if you like, getting a preemployment skill element through CDEP in SIHIP, or those people who are in SIHIP having got the preemployment skills and being paid wages. I think one of the things that happens in communities is on the one hand you will have somebody on CDEP doing preskills but there could be somebody in the same community who has been through that and is being paid wages. I think one of the things we have not done well in community is explain the difference.

Senator SIEWERT—The issue that was raised with us was that workers were doing exactly the same thing and working the same hours but were getting paid vastly different amounts of money. There were a whole range of issues.

CHAIR—Senator Payne has the name.

Senator PAYNE—It is Amoonguna. It is a refurb program, I think.

Senator SIEWERT—There are two issues going on there. There are houses being refurbed and there is the old clinic. I understand there is a great deal of confusion and there are issues going on there.

Senator Arbib—I am advised that the claim was they were working for their Centrelink payment or on the BasicsCard and that is incorrect. That is what I have been advised.

Senator SIEWERT—So they were not getting paid on the BasicsCard?

Senator Arbib—That is what I am advised, yes.

Senator SIEWERT—I have a range of quite detailed questions that I will put on notice because I appreciate it will take too long to follow that up here.

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