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Dear Hank: Centrelink boss offers personal email as complaints over ‘fraud accusations’ soar

20 December 2016
Sarah McVeigh
triple J Hack

The man in charge of Centrelink’s new system, which is sending thousands of automated letters to welfare recipients asking them for money back, says those feeling “lost in the system” should write to him directly: hank [at] humanservices.gov.au

[...]

Hank Jongen, the general manager of the Department of Human Services which runs Centrelink, says the system is not designed to accuse people of rorting. 

These letters identify anomalies and they give the individual the opportunity to correct the record,” he told Hack.

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Hank Jongen defended the government’s use of debt collectors as a last resort.

"We would have identified a debt quite some time ago to get to a debt collection service. 

[...]

Yesterday the government released its mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO), which is basically a review of the figures they put out during the proper budget in May budget.

In MYEFO there was another $313.50 million over four years to spend on Centrelink.

The Human Services minister Alan Tudge was unavailable for an interview with Hack, but has previously said the government’s new system is expected to send 1.7 million “compliance” notices and will recover over a billion dollars of welfare debt.