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Centrelink debt bungle fall out continues

6 January 2017
The Courier

A Ballarat woman has been forced to hunt down five-year-old payslips over Christmas while caring for an elderly relative in order to challenge thousands of dollars she allegedly owed to Centrelink. 

Ballarat MP Catherine King’s office has seen a spike in complaints in the lead up to Christmas after the government agency mobilised an automated debt recovery system, which its own employees have said is unable to take into account intermittent or casual work. 

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.

'No apology' from Barnaby Joyce as government doubles down on Centrelink debt clawback

6 January 2017
SMH

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has said the government makes "no apology" for pursuing people's debts as it continues to fend off anger surrounding Centrelink's troubled $4.5 billion debt recovery mission.
Mr Joyce - the most senior government figure to weigh into the furore so far - said that social security recipients who owe the government "are not criminals" but need to settle the debts in the interest of taxpayers.

Disability Sector Joins Calls for a Halt to Centrelink ‘Fiasco’

6 January 2017
Probono Australia

The Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, a collection of disability support and advocacy groups, has raised concerns the current debt recovery process, that uses automated data matching, is particularly unfair for people with disability.
It comes after Centrelink has come under fire for using data from the Australian Tax Office to check records about people’s income, without staff involvement or oversight.

The Centrelink summer

6 January 2017
The Monthly

When not just the Courier-Mail, but also other News Limited publications and A Current Affair are criticising the government for being too harsh on social security recipients, perhaps it’s time the government acknowledged how dangerous this Centrelink issue has become, and responded.
[...]
The onus is on citizens to disprove the debt at short notice, over summer holidays, using materials such as pay slips and doctor’s certificates they were never previously asked to keep. Often it’s material they’d submitted to Centrelink previously. The system by which people must register their objections and responses is completely overloaded, with phone lines jammed and IT systems groaning or simply incapable of coping with the task at hand.

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.

Centrelink debt recovery: Labor calls on audit office to investigate controversial scheme

6 January 2017
ABC News

Labor has called on the National Audit Office to investigate Centrelink's controversial debt recovery scheme that has been criticised for mistakenly targeting vulnerable Australians.
The Government has defended the scheme — which cross references employment data from the Australian Tax Office and Centrelink — despite the Opposition claiming it was brutal and poorly designed.

What's The #Centrelinkfail All About?

6 January 2017
Law Radio

In this episode Melissa Castan and Kate Galloway have a conversation about what caught their attention over the holiday period – mainly the question of government power exercised through the Centrelink data matching debts controversy. They explore the manner that the debt notices or ‘inquiries’ have come about, the impacts upon Centrelink customers, and whether this use of big data is a glitch, a strategy or a government policy.
AUDIO

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