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Response to further claims about online compliance activity

19 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Claims made today about the Department of Human Services’ online compliance activity do not accurately represent how the system works.
General Manager Hank Jongen said the system was designed to identify differences between Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink payment records, and was performing the task as intended.
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“We will continue to work with staff to explain how the system operates and the role they play.”

Centrelink systematically ripping off clients: whistleblower

19 January 2017
The Canberra Times

Centrelink is deliberately ripping-off thousands of Australians caught up in its data matching "robo-debt" program, with managers telling public servants at the agency to enforce debts they know are bogus, according to explosive new claims. 
Another whistleblower has come forward with an insider's account of how the "debts" are being pursued, alleging that glaring errors are being deliberately ignored by Centrelink to allow it to extract money from its clients.

Confusion in Centrelink about removal of six-year expiry date on debts

18 January 2017
The Mandarin

Before January 1, Centrelink debts expired if the agency ignored them for six years. Now it can pursue them at any time like the Tax Office, but within the agency there is confusion about the implications.
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There’s apparently a view in the agency that now there is nothing stopping the automated compliance program from going back through tax and welfare records “indefinitely” to find new debts to raise.

Misleading claims about online compliance system

16 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Commentary on the department’s online compliance system continues to incorrectly say 20 per cent of letters are being issued in error. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the process.
Initial notices request information to explain differences in earned income between the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink records. These result in a debt in 80 per cent of cases. The remaining 20 per cent are instances where people have explained the difference and don’t owe any money following assessment of this updated information.
This is how the system is designed to work, in line with the legal requirements of welfare recipients to report all changes in circumstances and the department’s obligation to protect government outlays.

New ReachTel poll shows Turnbull popularity slammed over Centrelink, entitlements saga

16 January 2017
news.com.au

An Australian of the Year finalist has also become embroiled in the Centrelink debt recovery debacle, after being sent an incorrect debt notice due to the automatic debt recovery system.
Queensland medical researcher Dr Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily and lives off the age pension, was sent a debt notice for $7600, The Guardian reports.
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The latest reports comes as a new poll shows the Turnbull Government’s popularity has taken a hit in the wake of problems with the Centrelink debt recovery system and MPs’ entitlements.

Centrelink robo-debt: public servants removed for asking too many questions, says Andrew Wilkie

16 January 2017
SMH

Centrelink public servants who ask too many questions about their agency's controversial "robo-debt" recovery effort are being "managed" out of debt recovery units, according to independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent also alleges public servants are being played against each other by managers, competing for the highest daily quota of debt notices.

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