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A statement regarding the Government bullying of Centrelink staff

18 January 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP Independent Member for Denison

Media reports that Centrelink staff are being bullied into silence ring true. There is no doubt that the Centrelink debt recovery program has reached the point of high farce, and I don’t doubt that both the Government, and by direction senior Centrelink management, are now pulling out all stops to try and silence the workers tasked with carrying out the program. 

Problems could be solved by talking to people: Anglicare Australia responds to Centrelink Automated Debt Collection

18 January 2017
Anglicare Australia

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers has supported calls by ACOSS, the National Welfare Rights Network and others to suspend the Centrelink automated debt recovery process, and for government to sit down with the people most affected to put a more respectful process in place.

Confusion in Centrelink about removal of six-year expiry date on debts

18 January 2017
The Mandarin

Before January 1, Centrelink debts expired if the agency ignored them for six years. Now it can pursue them at any time like the Tax Office, but within the agency there is confusion about the implications.
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There’s apparently a view in the agency that now there is nothing stopping the automated compliance program from going back through tax and welfare records “indefinitely” to find new debts to raise.

It's time to target the top end of town and the obscene profits of the super-rich

17 January 2017
Guardian

While apparent flaws in the Centrelink welfare crackdown have been a focus of public discussion, the controversy has rightly prompted indignation at a policy targeting members of our community who are struggling to make ends meet, while at the same time, more than one in three large corporations paid no Australian tax in the past financial year.
The debate provides a timely opportunity to look at the top end of town, where wealth is concentrated in Australia.

Government must abandon Centrelink’s Auto-Debt Recovery Program to prevent further harm

17 January 2017
Australian Council Of Social Services

In a statement today, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “This error-riddled Auto-Debt Recovery Program must be stopped without further delay. The tweaks announced by the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge do not address the fundamental problems and serious concerns expressed by us and a broad range of stakeholders.

Turnbull has pensioners and people with disability in his sights

17 January 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton; The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Shadow Member for Families and Social Services, ALP Member for Jagajaga

Reports today reveal that the Turnbull Government’s attack on pensioners and people with disability is set to extend to the Centrelink debt recovery debacle.
Around 3 million pensioners and people with disability are in the sights of the Turnbull Government’s error riddled debt recovery program.

Tudge misses own 21 day deadline on robo-debt debacle

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

After 21 days, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge still hasn’t responded to representations made by Shadow Minister for Human Services Linda Burney calling for a halt to his deeply flawed robo-debt program.
Centrelink clients get 21 days to respond to initial correspondence before they are assumed to be guilty and forced to start paying while they search for evidence to prove their innocence.

Turnbull has pensioners and people with disability in his sights

17 January 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, Labor Member for Barton

Reports today reveal that the Turnbull Government’s attack on pensioners and people with disability is set to extend to the Centrelink debt recovery debacle.
Around 3 million pensioners and people with disability are in the sights of the Turnbull Government’s error riddled debt recovery program.

Centrelink debt recovery scheme: Ombudsman to meet welfare groups this week over controversial program

17 January 2017
ABC News

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is wasting no time in starting its investigation into the Federal Government's welfare debt claw-back scheme, scheduling meetings around the country this week to quiz welfare groups about the impact of the controversial project.
The Ombudsman's office said it would be holding roundtable discussions with "stakeholders" as part of the investigation it launched earlier this month.

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.

Misleading claims about online compliance system

16 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Commentary on the department’s online compliance system continues to incorrectly say 20 per cent of letters are being issued in error. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the process.
Initial notices request information to explain differences in earned income between the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink records. These result in a debt in 80 per cent of cases. The remaining 20 per cent are instances where people have explained the difference and don’t owe any money following assessment of this updated information.
This is how the system is designed to work, in line with the legal requirements of welfare recipients to report all changes in circumstances and the department’s obligation to protect government outlays.

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.
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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.
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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.

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