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Centrelink debt recovery: Cruel blow for battler dad

22 January 2017
Matthew Connors
The Courier-Mail

The father and fulltime carer of a Brisbane boy who as a baby lost his legs to meningococcal is the latest victim of the Government’s bungled Centrelink debt recovery system.

Athol Heynatz, who cares for 13-year-old son Michael fulltime, is being chased for almost $1200 related to casual work he did six years ago while he was on the dole.

The Woodridge dad is the latest victim of Centrelink’s new automated debt recovery system, which was introduced in July and cross-references client’s records with those in the Australian Taxation ­Office.

The compliance system then automatically sends a ­letter asking its clients to explain ­potential overpayments. Thousands of Centrelink clients claim they have been unfairly targeted by the system.

In a nasty surprise, Mr Heynatz received a debt notice two weeks before Christmas for $1195.73 related to his casual work in 2010-2011.

Mr Heynatz said the discrepancy is because Centrelink averaged his casual work across the year, including a period over Christmas during which he didn’t work.