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Government concedes ground on Centrelink debt letters, as its popularity plunges

16 January 2017
Luke Henriques Gomes
New Daily

The Turnbull government will make a series of changes to Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system after weeks of politically damaging criticism.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has instructed his department to amend the recovery process.

This is despite the government’s continued insistence that the computer-run scheme, which claws back alleged overpayments, is a success.

Mr Tudge’s concession comes amid explosive new allegations that Centrelink workers have been given daily debt quotas to meet, and followed a new poll that showed the controversy was hurting the government’s electoral chances.

The changes include simplifying the language used in debt notices to make them “clearer and more intuitive” and adding Centrelink’s 1800 number to the letters.

Recipients will also be able to request an internal review before debt recovery begins if they can prove they did not receive the first debt letter.

Mr Tudge told Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday that Centrelink would now send letters to a number of different addresses, including those on the electoral roll, because some recipients’ details had been out of date.