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Department paying the price

23 February 2017
Latrobe Valley Express

Morwell based Centrelink staff will be resisting the urge to say 'I told you so' after Labor and the Greens successfully lobbied for a senate inquiry into the Federal Government's maligned 'robo-debt' scheme.
In the past two years about 18 skilled Morwell staff have been transferred into other roles to make way for automated-debt calculation technology, which has since led to thousands of Centrelink clients facing repayments they do not owe.

Q&A: Laughter as George Brandis says debt recovery notices can be fixed by contacting Centrelink

21 February 2017
ABC News

Attorney-General George Brandis has engaged in a heated discussion about offshore detention centres on Q&A, but it was the senator's suggestion wrongly issued debt recovery notices could be resolved by contacting Centrelink that drew one of the biggest audience responses.
The program had heard from Lyndsey Jackson, the creator of a website for people who had wrongly received letters as part of the debt recovery scheme, who said hundreds of people were suffering anxiety as they were forced to disprove the claims.

Centrelink debt system: government knew of error risks 'for decades'

17 February 2017

The man who led the first audit of Centrelink data-matching in 1999 says the government has known for decades that the process was prone to error without human oversight.
John Mayger, a retired auditor with the Department of Social Services, said his audit showed that detecting overpayments through data-matching was problematic without a high degree of staff vetting to provide an effective balance.

Centrelink boss Kathryn Campbell flies in for meeting with unhappy Tasmanian staff

17 February 2017

The Mercury understands that the meeting was held in the Hobart Town Hall and Ms Campbell is in the state for three hours.
Community Public Service Union Tasmania secretary Paul Blake said Ms Campbell has held similiar question and answer sessions around the country.
Mr Blake said staff questions are vetted beforehand.
The controversial robo-debt policy and protracted staff wage negotiations are the source of growing frustration among union members, he said.

The wait continues at Centrelink and tips to navigate it

17 February 2017
The Age

Centrelink's phone lines are about to get better… no really, they're meant to, but you just have to wait a little longer for it to happen.
That's the line I'm getting from the Department of Human Services, which has copped a hammering in recent weeks over the government's controversial robo debt recovery scheme and its high error rates in clawing back overpaid welfare payments.

Not good enough: Labor slams Centrelink robo-debt changes

16 February 2017

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.

Joel Fitzgobbon: Centrelink crisis a hearltess act.

15 February 2017
Hunter Valley News

Centrelink's inability to adequately service its clients has reached crisis point. You can only squeeze so much from the lemon and funding and resourcing cuts should have stopped long ago.
The situation has been made worse thanks to the Turnbull Government's terrible debt recovery program. It's chewing up so many of Centrelink's limited resources and leaving people sick with worry over letters informing them that they owe large amounts of money.

GetUp says govt should stop harassing people over 'debts'

15 February 2017
IT Wire

The activist group GetUp claims Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government is shaking down ordinary people, often for debts they neither owe nor can effectively challenge.
The group's national director, Paul Oosting, said it would be launching a billboard criticising the government for failing to go after corporate tax cheats while it attacked ordinary people over "false" debt claims.
The billboard would be placed on the lawns of Parliament House on Friday, he said.

An own goal on digital progress

14 February 2017

The government has formally tried to congratulate itself in the Parliament on its digital transformation of services in a sign of either “irony or grand self-delusion,” according to the shadow minister for the digital economy Ed Music.
The motion pointed to the government’s Centrelink technology, its health and aged care payment system and the MyGov online system.