Centrelink has removed advice telling welfare recipients they only needed to keep payslips for six months, which conflicted with the government’s efforts to claw back debts from up to six years ago.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert urged the government not just to suspend the system, but to scrap it altogether, saying it had caused “too many issues to remain viable”.
“When parliament resumes I will work with Senate colleagues to initiate a Senate inquiry into the debacle,” she said.“We need clear answers on how this program went so wrong and what the real implications are.”
The Community and Public Sector Union, which represents Centrelink workers, say its members have repeatedly found the debts are being wrongly issued.
Up until at least last week, the Department of Human Services website informed customers they only needed to hold payslips for six months as proof of income.
“You need to keep evidence of your earnings as we may ask you to show proof of your income. We recommend keeping your payslips for at least 6 months,” it read.
Users on social media noticed the flawed advice, and also noticed this week when it was quietly removed. Now, the advice simply reads: “You need to keep evidence of your earnings as we may ask you to show proof of your income.”
The Department of Human Services general manager, Hank Jongen, who is effectively head of communications, said the phrase was identified as potentially confusing.