Imagine you get a letter from Centrelink saying you have an outstanding debt of more than half your yearly salary. Oh, and it's due in just over a fortnight.
The Liberal senator Eric Abetz said Centrelink’s debt recovery system has “let down the Australian people”, while refusing to rule out support for Labor’s proposed Senate inquiry.
Sustained criticism over the system’s tendency to issue bogus debts to vulnerable Australians continues to place pressure on Liberal politicians in Tasmania.
Money will be taken, wrongfully, from some of the very poorest people in this country. I guarantee you they are terrified.
A second Tasmanian Liberal senator has criticised Centrelink’s debt recovery system, urging his colleagues to avoid “another talkfest” and “get the problems fixed”.
The recently elected Liberal senator Jonathon Duniam has written to the human services minister, Alan Tudge, to express concerns about the troubled system.
He told Guardian Australia he had conveyed concerns raised with his office to Tudge and sought an urgent solution.
It's really not a great time to be busted in the entitlements cookie jar amidst stories of single parents, students, pensioners and people with disabilities being pursued for debts that, in many cases, they did not even owe. When even A Current Affair is sticking up for people on the dole, you're doing your scapegoat politics very badly.
It would surprise the federal Coalition government — that assumes we dislike welfare recipients as much as it does — that one of its biggest problems at the start of 2017 is the Centrelink debt fiasco.
On Tuesday Labor’s human services spokeswoman, Linda Burney, wrote to the government asking for a suspension of Centrelink’s new automated compliance system, saying it must stop accusing people of serious wrongdoing and charging recovery fees until it could be certain the system was targeting the right people.