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Press releases

False to say there is a 20% error rate in Centrelink debt recovery system

13 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services

Labor's ongoing accusation that there is a 20% error rate in the Centrelink debt recovery system is false.
Every letter that is initially sent is based on a discrepancy between an individual's income data held at the Australian Taxation Office with their self-reported income data at Centrelink. The first letter simply notes the discrepancy and gives an opportunity for the individual to explain it. This is not a debt letter.

Minister, get out of your ivory tower and speak to people actually struggling on Centrelink

13 January 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

Minister Alan Tudge refusing to suspend or scrap the automated debt recovery system demonstrates a huge failing to comprehend the struggles and distress that the program has caused to people accessing the social safety net, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

Tudge either doesn't understand or deliberately misleading on robo-debt debacle

13 January 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton

Alan Tudge, Minister for Human Services, either isn’t across his portfolio or is deliberately misleading the public a leaked Centrelink robo-debt memo shows.
In a number of media interviews since he returned from holidays just this week Mr Tudge insisted that the thousands of people slugged with false robo-debt notices were able to request assistance from Centrelink staff in person or by phone.

ACTCOSS calls on Sentator Seselja to support the suspension of the government’s debt recovery program

13 January 2017
ACT Council of Social Services Inc

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) supports ACOSS’s call for immediate suspension of the Centrelink debt recovery program (link is external), until such a time that all issues can be rectified and convene a roundtable to work through how to redesign the system, citing significant risks that the program is harming Canberra residents who have at some time in the past accessed income support entitlements.

National Social Security Rights Network recommendations: Centrelink online compliance and debt system

13 January 2017
National Social Security Rights Network

The National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN, formerly National Welfare Rights Network) and its member services are struggling to respond to the number of calls from people distressed about Centrelink’s new online compliance system and being informed they have debts they think are wrong.

Tudge fudging the numbers on Centrelink robo debt debacle

12 January 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton

The Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, still isn’t across the detail of his bungled robo debt recovery program, contradicting his senior minister and his own department.
Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Human Services, raised concerns following a number of confused and inconsistent statements made by Mr Tudge since he returned from holidays just this week.

Government should not view Centrelink as a weapon of deficit reduction

10 January 2017
St Vincent de Paul Society

The St Vincent de Paul Society has called on the government to ensure that Centrelink is kept in public hands and properly resourced to support people rather than punish them, after a debt recovery scheme aimed at returning nearly $4 billion to the budget left thousands of clients with miscalculated bills.

A statement on Ombudsman’s decision to investigate Centrelink

9 January 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison

Many members of the community will gain some comfort from the news that the Commonwealth Ombudsman will indeed investigate Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system. I, and I understand my colleague Senator Nick Xenophon, had been pressing the Ombudsman for such an inquiry so this is a victory for common sense and appropriate oversight of government policy.

Centrelink debt recovery system

6 January 2017
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

In 2017 we will be finalising an ongoing assessment of the privacy aspects of DHS’s Enhanced Welfare Payment Integrity — non-employment income data-matching program, as well as conducting further assessments into their data-matching activities. The results of these assessments will be made available to the public at their conclusion.

No investigation has been opened in relation to this matter by my office.

The human face of Centrelink debt debacle

6 January 2017
Anthony Albanese MP, Labor Member for Grayndler

Today I have joined with victims from my electorate of Grayndler to speak out about of the Turnbull Government’s Centrelink debt debacle.
Over the Christmas and New Year period I have been inundated with calls from constituents distressed because they have been issued debt notices and threats of debt recovery action for debts that they never incurred.
Thousands of people with disability, students, pensioners and people recovering from life threatening illnesses are being told by the Turnbull Government that the onus is on them to prove that they have not acted fraudulently.

Media Release: Centrelink Debt Recovery Fiasco Must Be Suspended

5 January 2017
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia

Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) calls for the Centrelink debt recovery process to be immediately halted, amid concern about the impact on people with disability.
“We are concerned that the current debt recovery process, that uses automated data matching, is particularly unfair for people with disability,” says Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO, People with Disability Australia, and spokesperson for DPO Australia.

Centrelink debt nightmare continues

4 January 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, again called on the Government to put a halt to Centrelink’s flawed debt recovery process.
“I’ve now received over a hundred complaints from all around the country from people who have recounted deeply disturbing stories about Centrelink’s new debt recovery process,” Mr Wilkie said. “The Government has terrified countless people, ruined the Christmases of many and even driven some people to contemplate taking their own lives.