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Whistleblower or misguided luddite? Centrelink rejects serious allegations

19 January 2017
Stephen Easton
The Mandarin

Centrelink says concerns reportedly emanating from some of its staff — via their union and a left-leaning activist group — are the result of misunderstanding the complexity of the welfare system and personal disagreements with policy and technological change.

In response to the most serious allegations since the “#notmydebt” campaign began to push back against the agency’s letters asking people to clarify differences between information about past welfare payments and tax data, spokesperson Hank Jongen implies that some employees either don’t understand or don’t agree with how the system works.

The long list of allegations, attributed to a “compliance officer” with Centrelink, were published today by Fairfax Media and The Guardian, which both received them through GetUp! and the Community and Public Sector Union.

In volume, the terse response to Centrelink’s brief summaries of “the five main allegations” in the document pales in comparison to the lengthy and detailed set of allegations, which run to nearly eight pages and have been published in full online by Fairfax Media.

Jongen accepts the complaints are the result of some staff disagreeing with the new policy of asking customers to clarify data that doesn’t match, to cut down the agency’s administrative workload: