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Privacy for agencies

Annual Report

Purpose: To test the accuracy of Australian residency entitlement information provided by applicants for New Zealand benefits and pensions by matching a sample 10 percent of applicants for specified benefits and pensions.

Year commenced: 2002

Features: Data is transferred monthly by online transfer.

MSD disclosure to Centrelink: For a random sample of recent applicants for benefits, MSD provides Centrelink (the Australian Government agency administering social welfare payments) the client's full name (including aliases), date of birth, gender, MSD client number and Australian Customer Reference Number.

Centrelink disclosure to MSD: Centrelink provides MSD information showing the periods each individual has been resident in Australia, as derived from arrival and departure information.

2012/13 activity: This programme was stopped by Centrelink in January 2012 over concerns that Centrelink was accessing information about people who were not Centrelink clients. MSD is talking with Centrelink to restore the programme.

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
Year authorised/commenced 2002/2002
Programme type Confirming eligibility
Auditing data quality
Unique identifiers Australian and NZ social welfare numbers
On-line transfers Yes

System description
The Centrelink/MSD Periods of Residence Programme is one of two (the other being the Customs/MSD Periods of Residence Programme) that enable MSD to confirm periods of residence outside New Zealand for applicants for New Zealand benefits and pensions.

MSD creates a file of selected beneficiaries who have recently applied for New Zealand Superannuation, Veteran's Pension or an Invalid's Benefit, and transmits it to Centrelink in Australia. Centrelink attempts to match the records against information from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship database, and where a match is found determines periods of Australian residence from the migration records.

The annotated file is then sent back to MSD, which compares the periods of residence information it receives with what is already in its database. The Ministry sends a notice of adverse action (s.103 notice) to individuals where discrepancies of more than one day are reported, for periods of overseas residence greater than 90 days, so that the difference can be resolved.

Where the information received indicates the beneficiary may also be entitled to an Australian pension, they are encouraged to apply as New Zealand legislation requires that they do so. Receipt of an Australian pension effectively reduces the New Zealand government's payment (depending on the payment option selected by the client either the New Zealand Superannuation is abated, or the New Zealand government receives the Australian pension amount).

Historical activity

N/A 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 
Applications (names or aliases) sampled 10,838 11,843 8,770 8,788 8,094 6,953
Australian pensions granted 16 5 2 0 0 0

From the commencement of the match in July 2002 until 2007, a total of 58,468 applications had been sampled resulting in 116 Australian pensions being granted.