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Centrelink debacle: How we got into this mess

9 January 2017
Jackson Stiles
The New Daily

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has launched an investigation into the Centrelink debt recovery debacle – which both major parties played a hand in creating.


Mr Shorten’s statement did not mention that the scheme, in a less onerous form, was instigated by Labor in June 2011.

The New Daily understands the Labor government knew the data matching software and algorithm it put in place were prone to errors, and so the scheme had human oversight from Centrelink employees.

Despite this supervision, there have been sporadic reports since 2011 of angry Australians receiving letters ‘in error’.

Prior to Labor automating the scheme, Centrelink employees would, once a year, personally examine data provided by the ATO in an attempt to identify overpayments. Employees would then contact potentially overpaid welfare recipients by letter asking them to call to discuss the matter further.