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Centrelink Debt Recovery System Review

Friday, January 27, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Last month we reported on Centrelink issuing $650 million debt notices however, as you may have heard, the system has come under fire from not only the Opposition but also community welfare groups.

The Federal Opposition and others have claimed that the system is unfairly targeting innocent recipients with flawed data -matching which has now been bought to the attention of the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said, "I've had people who have approached me who have been frightened, absolutely scared, people who are paying this money because they are so frightened by this very official letter. I've had four people now approach me in my office who I would describe as presenting as suicidal and in all those cases we've taken what action we thought was appropriate."

Social Services Minister, MP Christian Porter, said in response, "We have a responsibility to the taxpayer to make sure that welfare recipients are not overpaid. Where there is an information which is available to us as a government which suggests that the earnings reported to Centrelink are different to the earnings reported by the employer to the ATO, we have a responsibility to check and to seek further information. We can't abrogate that responsibility because in a small number of cases people might be upset by the inquiry."

The Federal Government in the meantime has since claimed that the system is working and has only received a small number of complaints with $300 million recovered since July 2016. Of the 169,000 review letters sent since July 2016 only 0.16% had resulted in complaints.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald - Flawed Centrelink Debt Recovery System 'Bringing Some to the Brink of Suicide": Andrew Wilkie

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