Shadow Human Services Minister Linda Burney has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate Human Services Minister Alan Tudge over the leaking of a Centrelink client’s personal information to journalists, alleging he broke social security laws.
But her allegations made the Department of Human Services (DHS) see red. It disputed many of her claims and supplied details about her situation to a Canberra Times journalist.
The Department hit back and said the FTB debt was because Ms Fox underestimated her income, failed to lodge a tax return, did not confirm income information and waited two years to tell Centrelink she had split with her partner.
Centrelink claimed it had cancelled the debt related to her partner not lodging a tax return after she eventually told them they had separated.
Centrelink General Manager Hank Jongen disputed Fox’s version of events and said Centrelink made multiple attempts to contact her by phone and letter but most went unanswered.
Ms Burney said: “Alan Tudge has serious questions to answer. At best, his conduct is unethical. At worst, it is illegal.
“The release of this confidential information is a gross breach of trust. How can Australians have confidence that this Government will keep their confidential personal information safe?”
But Mr Tudge has argued that he has broken no laws and that the Department was entitled to correct false statements, especially where they could undermine public confidence in the system.