The office of human services minister, Alan Tudge, mistakenly sent a journalist internal departmental briefings about a welfare recipient’s personal circumstances, which included additional detail on her relationship and tax history.
Australia’s human services minister, Alan Tudge, relied on legal guidelines in parliament to justify the release of personal information to the media that his own department now says are irrelevant.
Tudge was criticised in parliament on Tuesday for releasing the personal details of welfare recipient Andie Fox, who was critical of Centrelink’s handling of her debt. Lawyers and welfare groups have already warned that the decision to release Fox’s details was legally debatable.
The Department of Human Services is accused of briefing a journalist about the case of welfare recipient and blogger Andie Fox, who wrote a column for Fairfax Media saying the agency “terrorised” her over an ex-partner’s debt.
Labor is attempting to suspend the business of federal parliament, accusing the Turnbull government of breaching privacy laws by leaking confidential information about Centrelink customers.
Opposition human services spokeswoman Linda Burney moved a motion in the lower house on Tuesday, arguing the government had conducted a vindictive campaign to gag those who complain about the Centrelink scandal by leaking their details to the media.
Privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has confirmed agency-specific laws can "override" the Privacy Act and hand some public service bosses the power to disclose personal information.
Centrelink's decision to release a welfare recipient's personal information to a journalist is unprecedented and will have a chilling impact on public criticism, lawyers say.
Those who publicly criticise Centrelink's automated debt recovery program could have their personal information released to correct the record, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has warned.
Senior government officials have approved the release of a Centrelink recipient’s personal information to counter her public criticism of the department.
Labor has accused the Australian government of breaching privacy laws by leaking confidential information about Centrelink customers.
Labor has dismissed the Coalition's effort to soften its controversial Centrelink "robo-debt" policy, with an opposition frontbencher demanding a government apology for those targeted by the program.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge announced on Tuesday evening that Centrelink, which has been sending private debt collectors to pursue debts raised under contentious data matching policy, will no longer demand payment for debts that are under review.