Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Centrelink customers get new convenient payment option

Centrelink customers living in regional and rural areas will have a new convenient option to help them manage their telephone bills, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

Centrelink customers will be able to choose a new payment option, giving them the greater flexibility to pre-pay their telephone bills on a fortnightly basis to ease the burden of getting big accounts.

Senator Patterson said Telstra had become the biggest single supplier to participate in Centrepay – a free, direct-debit facility for Centrelink customers.

“I commend Telstra for participating in this service, which allows anyone receiving Centrelink benefits to opt for a minimum payment of $20 per fortnight to help reduce their phone bill. It’s then shown as a pre-payment when the phone bill arrives,” she said.

“The advantages of this partnership for rural Australians are many. Centrepay is convenient, particularly in country areas, where distance can be a barrier to paying bills in person. A direct debit service like this can provide peace of mind in managing financial demands.

“The service is also voluntary and flexible, giving people living in rural communities more options in the way they manage their payments and can be changed at any time to suit people’s circumstances.”

Senator Patterson said this is another example of the Government meeting specific needs of rural communities.

“Where some service providers have withdrawn from country areas, it’s not as easy for Centrelink customers to arrange for their bills to be paid in convenient and reliable ways. The Centrepay/Telstra agreement is a way to assist mutual customers to meet those financial obligations,” she said.

Senator Patterson urged all Centrelink customers in country areas to consider this direct debit service and contact their nearest Centrelink office for further details.