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Pensioners and disabled next in line in Centrelink robo-debt campaign

17 January 2017
Noel Towell
Canberra Times

The Coalition government is going to target more than 3 million of elderly and disabled Australians with its controversial Centrelink "robo-debt" campaign, Parliamentary documents show.

The mid-year economic forecast tables published last week shows the government has booked savings of $1.1 billion from data-matching the aged pension and another $400 million from the disability support pension.

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The move will bring more than 3 million more Australians into the sights of the data-matching program, which uses an automated system to match information held by Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office and calculate overpayments.

But the policy has been beset by errors and has been hugely controversial with many of those targeted for debt recovery saying they are being hounded by commercial debt collectors for money that they do not owe.

The data matching effort so far has been concentrated overwhelmingly on mostly young people who have received the dole or Youth Allowance, although evidence is emerging that students have also been hit heavily.