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Errors in Centrelink’s debt recovery system were inevitable, as in all complex systems

14 February 2017
The Conversation

While there has been some controversy over the government’s reliance on big data to save taxpayers’ money, none of the commentary has come close to understanding the complexities hidden in the notion of the error rate.
The system that Centrelink employs is an example of artificial intelligence, and the problems it faces are intrinsic to all decision systems.

Denison MP Andrew Wilkie tables Bill to stop Centrelink recovering disputed debts

13 February 2017
The Mercury

Independent Denison MP Andrew Wilkie has tabled a private members’ Bill to stop Centrelink making automatic deductions from payments made to people who were appealing debt notices.
Mr Wilkie said he was deeply concerned by Centrelink’s ability to cut payments while an appeal was underway.

Robo-debt: government plain wrong and misleading, says Andrew Wilkie

13 February 2017
Wellington Times

The Coalition government has misled the Australian people about its conduct of the Centrelink "robo-debt" debacle, according to MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent delivered a scathing blast to the Turnbull government in Parliament on Monday morning, accusing it of being "incompetent, cruel and uncaring" over the "terrible terrible episode".

Centrelink debt recovery program: Department rejects FOI requests relating to plagued scheme

10 February 2017
ABC News

The Department of Human Services is refusing Freedom of Information requests on its new automatic debt recovery program.
In at least eight cases, the department has attempted to refuse or delay the release of documents because it claims it is "not clear" which program the request refers to, could not find relevant documents, or found too many documents.

Moves to stop Centrelink ‘illegal’ strikes

10 February 2017
The Australian

The Turnbull government is seeking to stop six days of industrial ­action planned by Centrelink and Medicare staff next week, claiming it is illegal under the Fair Work Act.
The Department of Human Services told the Fair Work Commission the action was designed to pressure the government over the so-called Centrelink “robo-debt crisis” and not in support of ­bargaining.

Centrelink in bid to stop 'robo-debt' strike by public servants

9 February 2017

Centrelink will front the industrial tribunal on Friday morning, trying to stop its public servants from embarking on a six-day campaign of micro-strikes between February 15 and February 24.
The Fair Work Commission will hear an application in Canberra on Friday from the giant Department of Human Services to rule planned industrial action by workers at Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support illegal.

Public sector union to use Centrelink Senate inquiry to highlight departmental 'dysfunction'

8 February 2017
ZD Net

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has said its members will use the Senate inquiry into the Centrelink automated debt recovery debacle to reveal the full extent of "dysfunction" in the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert will chair the investigation after the Australian Senate passed a motion on Wednesday to initiate an inquiry into the system that has some seen letters demanding money repayment sent in error to welfare recipients.

Centrelink staff will use debt system inquiry to expose dysfunction, says union

8 February 2017
The Guardian

Centrelink staff are planning to use a Senate inquiry into the automated debt recovery system to highlight the level of dysfunction within the Department of Human Services, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.
A motion referring the controversial system to the Senate’s community affairs references committee passed on Wednesday afternoon, as expected, with the support of Labor, the Greens and the crossbench.

Inquiry to be held into Centrelink data matching system

8 February 2017
IT News

A senate committee will investigate Centrelink's automated data matching process after thousands of wrongly-issued debt notices were sent out to welfare recipients.
The Greens and Labor party today successfully secured a motion to have the upper house's community affairs references committee take a closer look at the controversial data matching program, following thousands of reported errors.
The committee has been tasked with looking into the program's scope, cost-benefit analysis, contracts, and implementation by May 10.

Senate backs scrutiny of Centrelink data-matching program

8 February 2017

The Senate has backed an inquiry into Centrelink’s widely criticised data-matching program, which is intended to claw back welfare overpayments but whose accuracy and impact on welfare recipients has been condemned.
The Senate’s Community Affairs References Committee will scrutinise the program following a motion lodged by the Greens’ Senator Rachel Siewert and Labor’s Senator Doug Cameron.

Centrelink robo-debt scheme an 'absolute atrocity' but class action not on cards

8 February 2017

The odds of a joint action against the federal government's Centrelink debt recovery program have narrowed, with lawyers saying it's considered highly unlikely such an action would succeed.
However, Slater and Gordon – and perhaps some of Australia's other leading class action law firms – are investigating Centrelink's handling of the scheme, and have not ruled out challenging the legality of its conduct under Commonwealth laws.

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon highlights Centrelink debt debacle

8 February 2017
Muswellbrook Chronicle

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon marked the first day of Parliament for 2017 with a speech in the House of Representatives about an issue critical to hundreds of Hunter constituents.
Fitzgibbon’s 90-second statement highlighted the government’s current Centrelink crisis and the debacle surrounding automated debt recovery.
“This must stop,” he said.

Illawarra pensioner caught up in Centrelink debt letter ‘disaster’

7 February 2017
Illawarra Mercury

Whitlam MP Stephen Jones has used federal parliament’s first sitting day for 2017 to take aim at the government’s Centrelink debt recovery system “disaster”.
Mr Jones on Tuesday told the story of Margaret, a 77-year-old pensioner from his electorate, who received a debt notice of $467.44 as part of the automated system.