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Eric Abetz says Centrelink’s robo-debt system has 'let down' Australians

2 February 2017
Christopher Knaus
The Guardian

The Liberal senator Eric Abetz said Centrelink’s debt recovery system has “let down the Australian people”, while refusing to rule out support for Labor’s proposed Senate inquiry.

Sustained criticism over the system’s tendency to issue bogus debts to vulnerable Australians continues to place pressure on Liberal politicians in Tasmania.

Tasmania has the highest proportion of age pensioners, disability support pensioners and female sole parent pensioners in the nation, and welfare groups in the state have reported being inundated by requests for support.

Abetz, a conservative Tasmanian senator, has previously voiced his concerns with the system, as has fellow Liberal senator, Jonathon Duniam.

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Labor’s Linda Burney said Abetz’s comments stand in stark contrast to the government’s continued defence of the system.

“Even Liberal senators know there is a problem with the robo-debt system, if the minister won’t own up and fix these issues then the parliament will hold him to account,” Burney said.

“Alan Tudge is the minister overseeing Centrelink, if Centrelink is failing the Australian people then that responsibility lies at his feet.”