Letter leaves empty feeling 

The Minister for Human Services said it was the computer’s fault when he was asked how the wrong letter was sent to single parents advising them to cut up their pensioner concession cards.

Senator Kim Carr told ABC Radio it was a computer generated letter which provided 84,000 single parents with the wrong information.

This embarrassing mistake cannot be dismissed as an unfortunate error.

Parents who received the letter only a few weeks after having their welfare payments drastically cut would have been in despair. The empty feeling which would have consumed them as they read the contents of the letter learning they were losing more of the precious little help they now receive would have been sickening.

How does a government department provide the wrong advice to 84,000 people? 

There must be something seriously wrong with how the department operates.

Someone within Centrelink or the Department of Human Services must have written the letter for “the computer” to generate the mass mailout. How does an error of that magnitude slip through the cracks?

Many of these people are vulnerable, getting by with very little after finding themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own. Mothers and fathers are wondering how they will provide for their children. In some cases the Newstart allowance they are now receiving does not even cover paying the rent.

Senator Kim Carr said he had spoken to his department secretary about correcting the misinformation. That must be the first priority.

But what is the secretary going to do about the gaping hole in the administration of the department?

The letter was a callous mistake. 

Surely someone in the department knew it was being sent out.

Now that the Families Minister Jenny Macklin has admitted she could not live on $35 a day, perhaps she can tell all those single parents who are struggling to feed, clothe and educate their children how she expects them to survive?

For a government which is busily trying to save the planet, and provide the nation with state-of-the-art internet services, it would seem it has lost its way on caring for the vulnerable families in our society.

Almost unheard of in Labor history.

And despite the protests the 

government continues to do nothing.


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