The ombudsman has launched a broad, self-initiated investigation into the Centrelink automated debt recovery scandal, as the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, demanded the automated system be suspended.
Both the independent, Andrew Wilkie, and Senator Nick Xenophon had referred the debt recovery system to the commonwealth ombudsman’s office before Christmas, amid mounting complaints that it was sending incorrect debt notices on a large scale.
But the deputy ombudsman, Richard Glenn, told Guardian Australia on Monday the office had decided to launch an investigation of its own accord, describing it as an “issue of significant interest to this office”.
“I can certainly say the ombudsman has approved an own-motion investigation into the matter,” Glenn said.
“That is self-initiated, this one will be self-initiated because we have a number of complaints and there is significant public controversy about the issue. So it is an inquiry into the issue at large, rather than into a specific complaint,” he said.