Monday, June 24, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 16Slow bureaucracy denies seniors $500 recognition

Slow bureaucracy denies seniors $500 recognition


Applicants under the NT Government’s $500 a year NT Seniors Recognition scheme need to cope with conditions that are arbitrary and unnecessarily restrictive.

Sue Shearer, CEO of the Council On The Ageing (COTA), says the scheme for any Territorian over 65 is not a welfare initiative but one of recognition and its administrative process “should not take that long”.

For example a person applying after May 2 for membership of the scheme, which runs to the end of the financial year, misses out on the payment for the current financial year.


Explains the manager of the scheme, Kelly Hunter: “Applications take up to 30 days for processing and approval.”

How come? For example, in my first-hand experience this week, COVID staff have no difficulty confirming the identity of an air passenger arriving in the Territory who has emailed his or her details earlier the same day.

Ms Hunter: “New Seniors Recognition Scheme members who are approved after 31 May will receive their first prepaid card after 1 July.”


What that means, and Ms Hunter isn’t saying so, the senior is missing out on $500 for the current financial year despite an application made almost two months before its end.

Ms Shearer says COTA has been lobbing the government on that point, that even if people have only a short time to spend the amount (all money must be spent before June 30), it should not be denied to them.

Ms Hunter: “This cut-off date is due to the 20 working day (30 days) application processing timeframe and further the manufacturing and delivery process for the prepaid cards which takes approximately 20 working days (30 days).”

I checked with a staff member of Electronic Merchant Limited, the company that produces the Visa cards for the scheme.

She told me that it takes up to five days to produce the cards. So that’s five days or less, not 30.

She told Ms Hunter the same. Ms Hunter confirmed that.

So the remaining 55 days taken to complete a simple task are down to Ms Hunter and – by extension – Seniors Minister Lauren Moss.

How is this for a doosie. Ms Hunter: “The prepaid card takes up to 20 work days (30 days) from the date of issue to be delivered via post.”

What? Australia Post takes 30 days to transport to Alice Springs an envelope containing a card and sent from an Australian capital city? Toll (for example) can do it over night.

DECLARATION OF INTEREST: I am a member of the scheme. Initially acting as a private citizen I assisted a senior making an application to join. When it became clear that the circumstances are in the public interest I decided to make them the subject of a news report. I advised Ms Hunter and Families Minister Kate Worden of that. I emailed a draft of this report to Ms Worden ahead of publication so she could exercise her right of reply. I was told my communication was forwarded to Minister Moss. Ms Hunter repeatedly outlined the process but there has been no government response to the questions raised in this report. If one is received we will publish it. 

Erwin Chlanda, Editor.


  1. If you receive a bill or a fine from the government don’t pay it as you now have a good excuse by quoting how long it takes them to actually do something about it!

  2. On the majority of bureaucrats’ desks there are two baskets: The too hard basket and the to be ignored basket. Your query, Erwin, is in one of them.

  3. 30 days is a standard for most government agencies processing time frame Australia wide. It has been this way for years.

  4. @ Peter Hoey, Peter: This $500 seniors payment is yet another example of the infuriating and mindless bureaucratic madness inflicted on the Average Aged Punter in every state and Territory with Covid Response as the convenient excuse.
    This last week I did a rushed trip by bus and train and bus from Melbourne to Canberra for guardianship care duty for a dementia friend, after phone advice from ACT Health hotline saying I was cleared to visit friend at the nursing home.
    On arrival I was refused entry. The bureaucratic madness of Covid information and misinformation is systemic everywhere.
    Under these circumstances, I think it would be best if you don’t mention on your application that you are a Collingwood Tragic, Pete.

  5. They are only following pretty standard business practice where invoices are paid after 30 days, meaning that someone else has the use of your money free for 30 days.
    In business that money might travel the world several times in an aggregate form earning money for someone else on each round.
    Eight days to get a communication from Perth to here? Two days to get a letter to a post box in Alice when posted from here? It’s not only the government at fault.
    I once sent a bill to a major bank for the time I spent waiting in a bank line. No response of course. Time is not money to Governments as it is to the rest of us.
    The classic was a bank draft on a major Australian bank sent to a rellie in Fiji. It could not be honoured for 30 days because it had to be returned to the Australian bank to ensure that bank had the $500 to honour it! I often wonder how many times that $500 went around the world before she got it. Governments do the same and we allow them to do it with impunity.

  6. Trevor Shiell: In this case the actions by the government may mean the applicant will miss out on the $500 for the 2020/21 financial year. That means it’s not a delayed payment. That person will not get the recognition payment of $500 at all for the current year.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.


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