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Data matching

Annual Report

Purpose: For MSD and Centrelink (the Australian Government agency administering social welfare payments) to exchange benefit and pension applications, and changes of client information.

Centrelink disclosure to MSD: When Australian social welfare records are updated for people noted as having New Zealand social welfare records, Centrelink automatically sends an update to MSD including the full name, marital status, address, bank account, benefit status, residency status, income change, MSD client number and Australian Customer Reference Number.

MSD disclosure to Centrelink: MSD automatically sends the same fields of information to Centrelink when New Zealand social welfare records are updated, if the person is noted as having an Australian social welfare record.

Compliance: Compliant.

Technical information

Authorising provisions Social Welfare (Reciprocity Agreements and New Zealand Artificial Limb Service) Act 1990, ss.19C and 19D and Social Welfare (Reciprocity with Australia) Order 2002, Article 18[1]
Year authorised 2002
Year commenced 2002
Programme type Confirming eligibility
Updating data
Unique identifiers Australia and NZ social welfare numbers
Online transfers Yes

System description
When applying for New Zealand Superannuation, Veteran's Pension or Invalid's Benefit, individuals may also apply for corresponding Australian benefits to which they believe themselves to be entitled. The New Zealand application form advises applicants that testing for entitlement to any overseas pension will be required and that information supplied may be exchanged with another government to verify entitlement. Similarly, an individual applying for Australian equivalents may apply at the same time for New Zealand entitlements.

The agency (MSD or Centrelink) that receives the initial application package processes their part of the application according to their registration requirements, assigning a unique reference number for that client. That first agency then sends the client information, including their unique reference number, to the other agency. The second agency records the first agency's unique reference number on each individual's record, and assigns its own unique reference number to the individual. To complete the circle, the second agency then notifies the first agency of the second unique reference number related to the individual.

Once the linkage is established it is subsequently used for processing global changes (standard superannuation rates, for example) and changes specific to individuals.

MSD notifies New Zealand applicants of the information obtained from Australia, enabling them to correct any mismatch and confirm entitlements. This notice, under s.19D of the Social Welfare (Reciprocity Agreements and New Zealand Artificial Limb Service) Act, serves most of the same functions as a s.103 notice of adverse action under the Privacy Act for the purposes of these three matches[2].

While processing the application, if the applicant is uncertain as to the periods of residence, these can be confirmed using Customs records as described under matching progamme 9 Customs/MSD Periods of Residence Programme.

With the match between MSD and Centrelink records established as described subsequent changes in individuals circumstances are automatically notified by each agency to the other through this programme.

Recent activity

  2011/12  2012/13  2013/14  2014/15 2015/16
Changes of information received from Centrelink 619,347 701,575 829,295 904,801 938,230
Notices of adverse action 7,617 7,558 8,978 9,549 8,048
Changes of information sent to Centrelink 242,494 259,643 322,581 356,390 432,423

No notices were challenged in 2014/15.  One notice in 2013/14 was disputed and that challenge was accepted by MSD.


[1] Although not information matching provisions listed in Privacy Act, Schedule 3, the matches operated under these provisions are required to be treated as if they were authorised information matching programmes for most purposes - see Social Welfare (Reciprocity Agreements and New Zealand Artificial Limb Service) Act 1990, s.19D(3)(e).