Minister's Statement of Expectations - Translated from NewSpeke into English.

The Hon Joe Hockey MP
Minister for Human Services

Mr Jeff Whalan
Chief Executive Officer

Dear Mr Whalan,


These are your instructions. Remember, you are MY minion, and I dictate what you do. Send any protests to the Secretary, who has been instructed to shred them.

So, from the 1st of October this year until the end of September next year, this is what I expect.

Human Services Legislation Amendment Bill

As you know, this changes the way Centrelink does things. As noted in the second reading of the bill in Parliament, we pointed out that this should remove a lot of the uncomfortable ambiguity about Centrelink's position, making it very clear that Centrelink is a government agency, charged with implementing government policy, AND NOTHING ELSE.

I expect to receive a Statement of Intent from you by the end of November, telling me how you're going to comply with my orders, along with indications of how hard you're going to work the people who are your minions. Again, talk to the Secretary, who will make sure you're toeing the line properly.

Your Role

You are the boss of Centrelink. You say jump, they ask how high on the way up. However, I am boss of you. If they stuff up, you will need to explain why. Make sure they don't stuff up. Remember, the Secretary will be chasing you with a club if they do, and I will be claiming the credit if they don't.

Government Policy

The Government has a vision for Centrelink as a good publicity vehicle. As Centrelink's CEO, you will be expected to make sure that Centrelink complies with this vision.

While Centrelink's primary concern should be the delivery of payments, it must operate having a regard to the Government's approval rating and reform agenda. It should be in a position to be presented as an on-message example of the success of the Government's reform agenda.

Service Challenges

Centrelink has a diverse customer base, which means there is no single way for Centrelink to deliver its services. Despite this, we're going to insist that whatever it is you do, you're going to need to do it quicker, sooner, and more efficiently, while still saving the Government money. If you can make it look as though you're paying attention to the indigenous community while you're doing this, all the better. They're good publicity fodder.

You have to reduce the following:

The number of times people visit Customer Service Centres (it looks bad having those queues);
The amount of time people spend waiting in queues (they complain)
The amount of time spent filling in forms (people keep complaining your forms are too difficult for some reason).

So far, the public are queuing in CSCs for fifteen minutes, or waiting for over three minutes for a telephone call to be answered. Reduce these times - it looks bad for the government.

IT and Online Services

The government sees no reason to spend more money on things like technology for Centrelink. We've poured enough into that IT Refresh thingie, so make sure that money is spent properly.

You're spending too much on staff, and this could probably be reduced by making your customers do all the work. After all, they're unemployed, or pensioners, or stay-at-homes of some description, so they've got all this free time - make them use it! Shift to more online transactions - the banks have some wonderful ideas in this respect, see what you can borrow from them.

Improving Forms and Letters

We need to increase confidence in Centrelink by ensuring that we send out consistent and clear messages to customers. Small words, short sentences, and a single big lie - remember those key pointers. The government is their friend, the government knows best, and they should trust to the government to give them what they deserve. If they don't think they deserve what they're getting, they should be working harder.

People are complaining that the forms are too difficult to fill out still. I don't want to hear about this.

The postage bill from Centrelink is huge. Do you really have to send out all those letters? Wouldn't an email do just as well? Email doesn't cost anything.

Service Delivery Priorities for 2005 - 06

Remember, it is Centrelink's task to be seen to be on-message about the government's agenda - less rights for the lower classes, more money for the rich, keep them paranoid, and if they complain, arrest 'em for sedition. With this in mind, the following reform agenda is being passed out to all Human Services agencies:

Get them using the internet. That way we can point out that they're not waiting in queues, and they're not out in public, possibly doing something which could be described as sedition. If they don't have access to the internet, they probably don't deserve the money anyway, because they're lazy layabouts. Besides, websites cost less than customer service centres, so get those websites working, and start sacking excess staff.

Work with other agencies within Human Services (and don't forget those outside agencies, such as ASIO - keep in mind, when they're cheating us, what else they might be doing) to ensure that none of the undeserving poor are getting money from us.

The Priorities in Detail

Human Services is far too diverse. Let's slim the number of agencies down. Centrelink is intended to lead the way - if you do it right, your agency may just get business from the others. Or maybe it won't. You'll find out later.

The Government is implementing the Australia Card by stealth, and Human Services is to spearhead this implementation. Make demands for identity corroboration from each agency frequent, annoying as possible, and complex as possible. Then ask the customers whether they wouldn't mind having their information shared between programs and agencies. Assure them that none of this information will be stored... and keep up the demands for regular confirmation so they're willing to accept any sort of master database if it will just shut you up.

Remember, we want to look as though we're being responsive by putting everything online. There is no need to point out to people that the beauty of online support is that it means we can outsource the whole lot to an office of six people in Malaysia, and get rid of the need to keep seeing all these annoying poor people in our nice clean offices.

After all, the offices are meant for the middle class recipients of the Family payments. We want to encourage Family Payment recipients to be able to do their business wherever they want - at the moment we're trying to get all the Medicare offices in. After that, we'll see whether we need to broaden this to banks, or fast-food outlets.

All agencies in Human Services should work together to improve communication to Australians. The message has to be consistent: The government cares, the government knows best, needing money from the government is a sign you aren't working hard enough, and if you have any questions, an ASIO representative will be along shortly to explain why you shouldn't be asking them. We know who you are, we know where you live, and we know where your children go to school.

Centrelink is best placed to provide advice on which aspects of government policy might benefit from a different service delivery approach - such as sending in the nice people from ASIO. Keep an eye out for any annoying legislation which limits, for example, the power of Centrelink to get a full picture of a person's previous employment history, bank account details, or past criminal convictions. If Human Services can show that removing the privacy legislation will make government services more streamlined, the government is much more likely to be able to implement the centralised control we are aiming for. We need a convincing line for the media - they're pretty much onside at a corporate level, but we do need to have something to hoodwink the persistent left-wingers until ASIO gets them locked up.

Welfare to Work

You have an important role in delivering the Government's policy for encouraging people to move from welfare into work. Centrelink has already done a lot to promote the "work first" attitude with those members of the undeserving poor who persist in being lazy layabout bludgers and parasites. The budget changes to be implemented from 1 July 2006 will make it easier to make these people feel the appropriate level of guilt for not being willing to accept the new conditions our Industrial Relations system allows them to enjoy.

You're already referring a lot of indigent dole bludgers, malingerers, lazy single parents, and stay-at-home parasites to the Job Network, so that we can get them into appropriate jobs for their status. Keep up the good work, and with any luck, the servant problem will be solved within the next two years, and the undeserving poor will be back in domestic service, where they belong.

Remember, the job of Human Services is to ensure that these humans are aware of exactly how capable they are of providing a service to their betters. We need to aim to work closely together to ensure that this aim is achieved. Centrelink should be ensuring that wherever possible, people should be steered toward the pathways of either working or beggary; any advice Centrelink can give on effective means of encouraging guilty feelings about receiving money from the government are gratefully welcomed.

A Comprehensive Work Capacity Assessment will be required for all persons who have the temerity to ask the government for money as at 1 July 2006. Centrelink should be prepared to deliver these assessments; remember that a person who is interestingly deformed is quite able to earn an appropriate living through exhibiting their malformations for money – the Elephant Man is a case in point – and therefore should not require government support.

Integrity of the Welfare System

We have a duty to ensure that this country's welfare system is used only by those who are entitled to use it. This should be understood to mean the deserving middle classes, rather than the undeserving poor. Remember, the taxpayer funds Centrelink, and the taxpayer is automatically a part of the deserving middle classes. They don't want to see their money wasted.


Centrelink has a duty of care to its customers and staff – remember, it is your duty to care about the government's money going to the appropriate persons. Centrelink's culture must be responsive to the needs of citizens (ie taxpayers) and stakeholders (ie the Government) rather than spending entirely too much time worrying about the undeserving poor. The organisation should be willing to question itself and its performance on an ongoing basis. Ask yourselves: do these people really need money from the government?

I expect to see high level internal reviews to make sure that Centrelink is achieving the outcomes expected of it by government, visibly followed up to provide appropriate publicity. Remember, if the customer is a taxpayer, you are to shift heaven and earth to ensure they receive anything they feel they are entitled to.

The challenge for executive management is to recognise potential trouble spots, and ensure that arrangements of monitoring, assessment, reporting and review of these are as inflexible as possible. These arrangements should provide for early identification of problem staff for corrective action by management, with clear triggers for oversight and involvement at executive level. All staff must be on-message.

This includes the Customer Service Officers at the CSCs. They are the public face of Centrelink, and they must present an appropriate face to the customer. Ensure all such staff are well trained in recognising a member of the deserving middle class, and distinguishing these from the undeserving poor.


The Government spends $3.5 billion on the Department of Human Services each year. This has to reduce. It either has to come out of your budgets, or the payments you shell out to the undeserving. Your choice.

The Secretary will be looking over all of your departments to ensure that nobody is doubling up on work. If what you're doing looks like something someone else is doing, expect that function to be offered to the lowest bidder.

Centrelink is a large organisation, so you should be able to achieve large savings.

The Role of the Secretary

The Secretary is going to be the cross-agency bully boy. You advise him, he advises me, and if he doesn't give me your information, that's obviously the fault of someone within your organisation.

Aside from that, anything goes. If it works, do it. If it isn't legal, don't let me find out about it, and for gods' sake, don't let the media find out.

Relationship with the Purchasing Departments

Make sure you bend over backwards for them. If they say “jump”, ask “how high” on the way up. If they want to implement something which will break your systems, that's your problem, not theirs.

Centrelink as an Employer

As one of the largest employers in the Australian Public Service, Centrelink should be modeling Australian Public Service standards and values. Under the current government, this means cringingly obsequious compliance with government policy. Centrelink staff should provide an example for Australians at all levels to understand how they are meant to behave, particularly immigrants, indigenous Australians, women, disabled persons, and other such persons of low social value.

Keep going with the plan to reduce the levels of unplanned leave. Sixteen days a year is far too high – after all, this is the Government they are working for. I look forward to hearing you have abolished this completely.


Centrelink is intended to be a shining example to the Department, the Public Service, and to all Australians, of how the current Government's policies are implemented. If this is not possible through positive means, we can use negative ones. The choice is yours.

Enjoy. Remember, if your staff are portraying the proper attitudes, you will be too.

Yours sincerely,



Joe Hocking.

(Please note: the above is a work of satire, and isn't meant to be taken seriously. The memo it was based upon, however, obviously is. Which is something of a pity.)