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Centrelink: Labor asks police to investigate release of welfare recipient's data

2 March 2017
Christopher Knaus, Paul Farrell

Labor has asked the Australian federal police to investigate the government’s release of welfare recipients’ private information.

Labor’s Linda Burney took the step after senior Department of Human Services officials were questioned in Senate estimates over the legality of releasing the personal details of welfare recipient Andie Fox.

Social security law makes it a criminal offence to release protected information about welfare recipients, although it can be done lawfully in limited circumstances.

The referral relates specifically to disclosures by the office of the human services minister, Alan Tudge.

“I have not done this lightly,” Burney said. “I do not play with people’s lives but the minister’s office, or the minister, has seen fit to … somehow release private information and then try to justify it by relying sections of the Social Security Act.

“Well, let’s test that.”


The AFP confirmed it received the referral from Burney’s office. A spokesman said it would be evaluated in line with its normal procedures and said no further comment could be made.