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Eric Abetz: concerns over Centrelink debt recovery program allayed

20 January 2017
Rachel Baxendale
The Australian

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz says concerns he raised about Centrelink’s debt recovery program after realising he had an affected relative have now been allayed.

During a barbecue over summer, Senator Abetz was made aware of the fact that a member of his extended family had received a letter from Centrelink incorrectly claiming they had a welfare debt.

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“But the letters now are a lot more user-friendly, and invite people to consider whether the information is correct or not, rather than asserting that the information’s correct, and so I think that is something that the Australian public will accept as being a sensible resolution to the matter,” he said.

Australian Council of Social Services CEO Cassandra Goldie said the matter was far from resolved.

“We’re continuing to hear of case after case,” she told the ABC.

“The growing scale of this is overwhelming and the government seems determined not to listen to the deep levels of distress here.”

Dr Goldie met Mr Tudge this week and again asked for the automated debt recovery system to be suspended.

“He was open to refinement, (but) not prepared to halt the system altogether and we disagree with him on that,” she said.

“This must stop and the Minister must sit down with stakeholders to look at what needs to be done to ensure that where a debt may be owed it is pursued in a fair and humane way.”

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