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Press releases

Government using commission only private debt collectors for automated debt recovery program

9 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

The Senate inquiry into the Centrelink debt recovery process has revealed that the Government is paying private debt collectors commission only to rake back potentially incorrect automated debts from former Centrelink recipients.

Greens seek advice from Senate Clerk about potential witnesses feeling intimidated in the lead up to the senate Centrelink inquiry

3 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is today urging Centrelink recipients to make submissions to the Senate inquiry and not to be deterred by the Government's current behaviour in releasing personal information, explaining that giving evidence to a Senate committee is covered by Parliamentary Privilege.

DHS trawling social media to find Centrelink complaints only to intimidate recipients is huge concern: Greens

3 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

“It is deeply concerning that DHS staff have been trawling through social media to find people complaining about Centrelink to provide to the Minister”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

28 million busy signals hit in the first seven months of this financial year for those trying to reach Centrelink

3 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

“28 million calls hitting a busy signal in the first seven months of this financial year is astronomical and could reflect people trying to get through to fix an incorrect debt”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

Funding cut to catch fraud, but most vulnerable targeted with flawed robo-debt mess

2 March 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton; Clare O’Neil MP, Shadow Minister for Justice, ALP Member for Hotham

Senior public servants have revealed that the Turnbull Government will cut funding which is meant to help catch serious criminals exploiting Centrelink, while Alan Tudge continues to target the most vulnerable with his error prone robo-debt system.

Labor refers Tudge's release of personal information to the AFP

2 March 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton

Labor has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate revelations that the Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, or his office, sent confidential Department briefs about a former Centrelink client to journalists.
Mr Tudge’s conduct is totally unacceptable. The confidential briefings reportedly contained details on the individual’s relationship and tax history.
Alan Tudge has serious questions to answer. At best, his conduct is unethical. At worst, it is illegal.

Tudge's explanation for data breaches was irrelevant according to his own spokesperson

1 March 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton

A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services has reportedly dismissed Alan Tudge’s comments to the Parliament justifying his decision to leak private information as “not relevant”, meaning that the Minister still hasn’t explained whether the data breaches were legal.
[...]
Instead of targeting ordinary Australians to cover up his robo-debt disaster, Mr Tudge should get on fixing his broken system.

Coalition exposes own hypocrisy in claim to public interest leak

1 March 2017
Pirate Party Australia

In an epic violation of trust, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge has intentionally given out a Centrelink client’s personal information to Fairfax media, as a part of a political campaign to discredit and silence Australians speaking out against the nightmare of Centrelink’s debt recovery program. The article, published by Fairfax media, contained personal information that was used to “correct the record”, but only serves to highlight the abuse of power within Federal Government departments who would rather be seen to silence criticism than fix the issue at hand.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert responds to Government leaking Centrelink recipient details to media

28 February 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

“It is extremely concerning that the Government has willingly and openly given media the personal details of a Centrelink recipient and will do so again to those who dare to speak out about the automated debt recovery system.

Correcting misleading story about department’s debt recovery process

24 February 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Yesterday evening, news.com.au once more ran a misleading story about the department’s debt recovery processes, attempting to again wrongly link it to the online compliance system. Had the department been afforded an opportunity to investigate the cases featured in the story prior to publishing, we would have quickly corrected this erroneous assumption.

Response to claims about the department’s use of external collection agents

22 February 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Claims made recently about the Department of Human Services’ use of external collection agents are inaccurate and require clarification.
Agencies who have been engaged by the department to recover debt from people will always ensure their operators clearly identify themselves as calling ‘on behalf of’ the department.

Debt collectors posing as Government department just another line of deceit

22 February 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

A report of a debt collection agency portraying itself as a Government department is just another underhanded and nasty tactic being used as part of the Government’s automated debt recovery program, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

‘Improvements’ for debt recovery system just fiddling around the edges: Greens

15 February 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

The Government’s announcement of ‘improvements’ to the debt recovery system are fiddling around the edges and do not address the fundamental issues of the Centrelink automated debt recovery system, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

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