Interview with Minister Shorten of 2SM


BRENT BULTITUDE, HOST: The Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Government Services Bill Shorten revealed that more than 192,000 people had accessed the one-off non-means tested disaster recovery payment since Thursday. And Bill Shorten joins me on the phone this morning. Thanks for your time, Mr Shorten.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Good morning, Brent. I’ve got an update on some of those figures about the support and the number of people who are being supported, if you’re interested.

BULTITUDE: Absolutely, please give me those figures.

SHORTEN: Well, as of midnight last night – so in the four days that the Federal Government has been in the field – 527,900 individuals have been supported. So that’s – some of them with family members – so it’s about 380,000 claims that have been finalised. And what it means is these one-off non-means tested payments of $1,000 to an adult and $400 to your child means something like $436 million has been paid out as of the 10th of July.

BULTITUDE: That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of people. And that is fantastic to see this time around it has happened so quickly as opposed to what we’ve seen in the past. That’s been the biggest complaint – in the past it’s just taken forever and ever and ever. And people were waiting in some cases months and months for payments, whereas this has been a complete backflip of that.

SHORTEN: That’s true. Listen, there have been some more claims received than that, and the – my department’s just making sure that we’ve got all the evidence for it. So I think you’re a hundred per cent correct – what’s happened is that people have gone online. If you’ve got half a million people, many of whom are using the internet as opposed to waiting on phones, that's cleared some of the traffic jams.
But sometimes there are some people who try it on. But there’s red flags in the system. So if you’re someone who’s unscrupulous and just being opportunistic, we’ve got systems to catch you out, too.

BULTITUDE: Can I ask you, how easy is it for people to claim this in reference to the process of going online?


BULTITUDE: For people in New South Wales is it through the NSW Services app?

SHORTEN: Well, there’s assistance also available via New South Wales. But it is easier than ever to claim these disaster payments online.


SHORTEN: What you do, I mean, is you log on to myGov and you make sure that Centrelink is linked to your account. Then you just select “Apply for disaster recovery payment”, then you select the “Begin” button, and then you answer the eligibility and claim questions and you submit your claim.

BULTITUDE: Okay. So to be able to do this you’ve, (a) got to have a myGov account set up?

SHORTEN: That’s true.

BULTITUDE: And, (b) you’ve got to link your myGov account to Centrelink. What’s involved in that process?

SHORTEN: It’s not very hard. You just get the myGov app and you put it on your phone. Just to reassure people who might be saying, “Oh, that sounds bewildering, even if Bill’s making it sort of sound simple,” nearly 90 per cent of the individuals supported have done so through online. So if 450,000 other people are able to do it online, chances are you are.


SHORTEN: But the good news is – and I’m a big believer in this – that if you need help to claim you can also call an information line and speak to a human being.

BULTITUDE: Have you got that number available there?

SHORTEN: Yeah, I can read it out.


SHORTEN: It’s 180 22 66, so 180 22 66.

BULTITUDE: Okay. So if you don’t have – because I suppose –

SHORTEN: You can get digital frustration.

BULTITUDE: You can, you can.

SHORTEN: I’ve been in that category. I understand that.

BULTITUDE: You and me both. And there is also a percentage of people that just haven’t become part of that world yet.


BULTITUDE: And probably never will.

SHORTEN: Yeah, yeah, that’s understandable, too. So there is – I was at one of what we call the Smart Centres – I don’t know if I like the marketing names – but I was at a Smart Centre and what was great is there was a whole a lot of dedicated people – social workers, trained Services Australia – they were working in Liverpool yesterday. And so I went to visit them. 
It was very impressive watching them just – and I got to listen in to some of the calls, put the headset on and, you know, there were a couple of chances I thought on the phone. But then there were some other people really just needed help.
What’s amazing is that there’s 1.3 million people live in the 29 affected LGAs – local government areas – and over half of them have accessed the system in the first three days.

BULTITUDE: That’s incredible isn’t it?

SHORTEN: The first four days. Yeah, it is incredible. That’s the way the system should be. Just to – if you’re interested, in the guidelines, these thousand dollar payments for adults and $400 for each child under 16 is available to people whose homes have received major damage. Major damage can include obviously self-evident things – like the house is destroyed or demolition, maybe you’ve got sewage in the house, the interior has been flooded – but also if major assets they own, if they have a combined value of more than $20,000 – so that can be vehicle, caravans, water tanks, machinery.

BULTITUDE: All right, Bill, thank you for taking the time in your busy schedule to talk to us this morning. That number for the people that aren’t internet or tech savvy, it’s 1802266. I’ve got that right, have I?

SHORTEN: Spot on.

BULTITUDE: 180 22 66. I’ll let you get back to your schedule. Thank you for taking the time. As I said, we really do appreciate it.

SHORTEN: And good luck to all those people. Just there’s a few people out there saying, “Oh, should people really get the money?” When your house gets flooded or when you’ve lost, you know, you’ve kept all your photos in the garage and the school reports and the marriage certificates, these things are devastating. So this is what the government’s for – a minimum safety net for natural disasters.

BULTITUDE: And it’s a small amount but it goes a long way for many people.

SHORTEN: It does help a bit for morale.

BULTITUDE: Absolutely. Terrific.

SHORTEN: Cheers. Bye.

BULTITUDE: Okay, bye-bye. That is the Minister for Government Services and Minister for the National Disability Scheme Bill Shorten. There you go. 
So if you are listening this morning and you have not – many have, as he said, 527,900 individuals have applied, 380,000 claims have already been finalised. And you’ve got to remember this only came in to be from last Thursday. If you remember it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon last Thursday. And so far I believe they’ve paid out $436 million.
So you can online, go to myGov. You’ve got to link your myGov account with Centrelink and then away you go. Or if you’re not tach sevvy – tech savvy, I should say, it’s 180 22 66. So 180 22 66.