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Not good enough: Labor slams Centrelink robo-debt changes

16 February 2017
Noel Towell

Labor has dismissed the Coalition's effort to soften its controversial Centrelink "robo-debt" policy, with an opposition frontbencher demanding a government apology for those targeted by the program.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge announced on Tuesday evening that Centrelink, which has been sending private debt collectors to pursue debts raised under contentious data matching policy, will no longer demand payment for debts that are under review.

But the burden of proof will still lie with the welfare agency's clients who must prove that debts generated by the error-riddled system are not theirs and Mr Tudge's opposite number, Labor's Human Services spokeswoman Linda Burney, says the changes do not go close to fixing the problems with robo-debt.

She said the changes did nothing for people who had already been hit with debt notices by the system, which has been operating in its stepped-up form since July 2016, and were being pursued for money they believe they do not owe.

"Changes to the robo-debt system should be retrospective – it is only fair  that those who have already received debt notices are able to have theirs reviewed before being forced to pay debt which may not exist," Ms Burney said.