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Government concedes ground on Centrelink debt letters, as its popularity plunges

16 January 2017
New Daily

The Turnbull government will make a series of changes to Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system after weeks of politically damaging criticism.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has instructed his department to amend the recovery process.
This is despite the government’s continued insistence that the computer-run scheme, which claws back alleged overpayments, is a success.

Coalition hits new low and Greens trail One Nation in poll showing Centrelink anger

16 January 2017
Guardian

One Nation gains ground in GetUp poll that finds 46.2% want Centrelink automated debt collection halted, compared with 31.8% who want to keep it.
The Turnbull government has hit a new low in its two-party preferred vote and the Greens trail One Nation in a fresh poll that also shows widespread anger at the Centrelink debt debacle.
The ReachTel poll of 2,126 Australians for the progressive political campaign group GetUp shows the Coalition trailing Labor 46% to 54% in two-party preferred terms.

Government To Start Fixing Centrelink Debt System They Insist Isn't Broken

16 January 2017
Pedestrian Daily

"I'm not aware of individuals who are completely convinced that they don't owe money but have been given a debt notice." -- Human Services Minister Alan Tudge
Despite being unaware of that happening, Tudge is now enforcing changes to ensure that it stops, with the Centrelink process being adjusted so that debts will not be transferred to debt recovery agencies until after the client is aware of the supposed debt.

Centrelink's controversial debt collection system to undergo revamp after Australians were slapped with false debts

16 January 2017
Daily Mail Australia

The controversial Centrelink debt-collection program is getting a makeover.
But the Malcolm Turnbull government is standing by the system even as it threatens to erode voter support for the Liberals.
The Department of Human Services is making cosmetic changes to the letters sent to thousands of Australians asking welfare recipients to prove that past payments were not made in error.

The Government Copped A Beating In New Poll Over Centrelink Debt Shitstorm

15 January 2017
pedestrian TV

A new poll by Reachtel, commissioned by GetUp! and taken before Sussan Ley's resignation, finds that the politician expense scandals and the Centrelink nightmare are not getting the government's year off to good start. According to the poll, Labor leads the Coalition 54-46 on a two-party preferred basis.
The poll focused heavily on the Centrelink issue, with 46.2% of people saying they want the debt collection suspended, compared to only 36.2% who want to keep it. The rest are undecided.

The government’s horrific start to the year is fully deserved and completely appropriate

15 January 2017
Guardian

The government’s horrific start to the year is not only fully deserved, it is completely appropriate. The Centrelink shemozzle and entitlements abuses are a wonderful amalgam of the absence of respect for those on welfare and the tin-eared political nous which characterises this government.
Let’s not pretend that Centrelink issuing faulty debt notices is just a case of IT gone wrong.
Faults where people are issued debt notices of $14,000 due to the system incorrectly duplicating employers, or because it hamfistedly averages annual income over 52 weeks are not really IT glitches, but rather are part of the policy design.

Tasmanian community sector sets up relief fund for people hit by welfare bills

15 January 2017
Mercury

A disaster relief fund has been formed for Tasmanians struggling with the mounting stress of Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system.
The state’s community service sector has rallied together to provide immediate support to Tasmanians needing legal advice, advocacy and support about their debt notices.
PAYWALL

Centrelink data-matching problems show the need for a government blockchain

14 January 2017
The Conversation

Governments across the globe are experimenting with the blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, as a way to reduce costs and provide more accountability to the public. In Europe alone, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Estonia are experimenting with blockchains to fight corruption and deliver public services.
Australia, too, is looking at what a blockchain might achieve. The recent problems with Centrelink’s automated data-matching system show precisely where a government blockchain would fit in.
Rather than siloing our data in government agencies, we could create a single source of information. This would speed up our interactions with government, while reducing errors and fraud.

Tales of Centrelink debt collection woe in central Victoria

13 January 2017
Bendigo Advertiser

When a Bendigo aged care facility decided to change its name, a simple re-brand was probably the only thing on the board’s mind.
But the decision – inadvertently – set in motion a series of events that left one of its former employees owing $2558 to Centrelink.
At least that’s what Rob K and his accountant have since discovered.
He was one of the tens of thousands of Australians to receive a Centrelink debt recovery letter in the second half of 2016 as part of an automated nationwide audit.

Seven Hills single mother battles Centrelink over 'unexplained' debt

13 January 2017
Blacktown Sun

In April last year, Michelle Lawson received an unpleasant surprise from the Department of Human Services: she apparently owed them more than $6000, from single-parent benefits received years earlier.
The Seven Hills mother-of-two declared her part-time income fortnightly and it was checked annually against her tax returns.

The Centrelink and expenses scandals reveal the rot at the heart of our democracy

13 January 2017
Guardian

Australian democracy right now may be more vulnerable than many care to admit. One reason is that the branch office mentality of so many politicians often leads them to assimilate and ape American trends. The usual suspects have been flaunting their Trump fandom, but others may come to see his victory and his politics as something to be more closely emulated.
More serious, though, are multiplying signs of a kind of structural rot whose sources are internal.

Centrelink mess is what the government wants

13 January 2017
IT Wire

The mess created by the Australian Government's bid to automate the search for people who are cheating on their welfare entitlements shows no sign of disappearing, with ministers standing by the methods used.
These methods have been shown to be generating false positives by many media organisations but the government refuses to budge.
The view of many is that this is typical political behaviour: make a mistake and then refuse to own up to it.
But a different theory appears to be more logical: Malcolm Turnbull and his ministers are refusing to budge because they want a situation of this kind to exist.

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