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

17 January 2017
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.

Welfare payments: More pressure for Federal Government to make changes to the Centrelink debt recovery process

16 January 2017
ABC Radio Canberra

The ACT Council of Social Service has written to Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja seeking his support to suspend the program while issues are resolved.
[...]
ACTCOSS director Susan Helyar spoke with ABC Radio Canberra breakfast host Dan Bourchier about the debt recovery system and what changes they would like to see.

New ReachTel poll shows Turnbull popularity slammed over Centrelink, entitlements saga

16 January 2017
news.com.au

An Australian of the Year finalist has also become embroiled in the Centrelink debt recovery debacle, after being sent an incorrect debt notice due to the automatic debt recovery system.
Queensland medical researcher Dr Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily and lives off the age pension, was sent a debt notice for $7600, The Guardian reports.
[...]
The latest reports comes as a new poll shows the Turnbull Government’s popularity has taken a hit in the wake of problems with the Centrelink debt recovery system and MPs’ entitlements.

Centrelink robo-debt: public servants removed for asking too many questions, says Andrew Wilkie

16 January 2017
SMH

Centrelink public servants who ask too many questions about their agency's controversial "robo-debt" recovery effort are being "managed" out of debt recovery units, according to independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent also alleges public servants are being played against each other by managers, competing for the highest daily quota of debt notices.

Man Spends 30 Hours Disputing False $5500 Centrelink Debt

16 January 2017
Huffington Post

The story of Ian and Jane, from Adelaide, highlights more of the difficulties faced by people caught up in Centrelink's so-called "robo debt" program. Automated data-matching software links up Centrelink records with information from other government agencies like the Australian Taxation Office, and if discrepancies between data is detected -- which can range from full-on fraud and incorrect income reporting, to record-keeping errors where the different agencies refer to the same business by two different names -- the Centrelink recipient is asked to provide more information. In many cases, this leads to a large debt being levelled against the client for overpayment by Centrelink, which the client is told to pay back within mere weeks.

‘Backflip’ over Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program

16 January 2017
The Australian

The government has been accused of “backflipping” over Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program after it decided to give the system a facelift, as Labor demands improvements be made retrospective to include all affected welfare recipients.
Labor frontbencher Linda Burney declared Human Services Minister Alan Tudge had made a “stunning admission” after The Australian revealed he had directed his department to introduce a number of “refinements” as he attempts to deal with the political fallout.
PAYWALL

Anglicare dealing with fallout from Centrelink clawback

16 January 2017
Tasmania Talks - Radio

Meg Webb, Manager of Anglicare's Social Action & Research Centre shares with Brian Carlton how the clawback has affected those using Anglicare's services. "If we're hearing [stories] through the people involved in our services, there's going to be many, many more out there in the broader community, who are also impacted by this debacle and may not have places to turn for help and support," Ms. Webb says.
AUDIO

Bill Shorten's skin is so thick it puts a rhino's to shame

16 January 2017
The Age

What is it about us, what kind of bongo juice are we on when we fall for some schmaltzy rubbish suggesting that everyone should be allowed to keep overpayments?
This whole debate is a Groundhog Day for me. I once had the welfare portfolio and there were inevitably occasions when people had overpayments and were expected to repay them. There was always the possibility to pay back over time, but many took umbrage at having to pay anything at all. Many in the media, and just about everyone in opposition, played it for all it was worth. The department, Centrelink and the government were always portrayed as mean and nasty people who just wanted to give welfare recipients the boot.

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