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People who criticise Centrelink's debt recovery could have personal information released to 'correct the record'

28 February 2017
Henry Belot
ABC News

Those who publicly criticise Centrelink's automated debt recovery program could have their personal information released to correct the record, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has warned.


On the weekend, Fairfax published an article from the Government's perspective, raising the prospect of Centrelink being "unfairly castigated". 

In the article a spokesman for Centrelink commented on Ms Fox's personal information including her history of claiming the Family Tax Benefit and relationship circumstances. 


A DHS spokesman said personal information could be released by the Government to correct public statements of complaints. 

"Such disclosures are made for the purposes of the social security law or the family assistance law, they do not need to be formally authorised by the secretary," the spokesman said. 

"Unfounded allegations unnecessarily undermine confidence and takes staff effort away from dealing with other claims.

"We will continue to correct the record on such occasions."

Labor's Linda Burney accused DHS of "deeply unethical actions" and the Government of seeking "revenge".


Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the disclosure was "extremely concerning" and appeared to be an attack on Ms Fox, "who was brave enough to speak about her struggle with the government agency". 

"If it transpires that the department did in fact leak personal details to a journalist to argue in favour of the broken Centrelink system this raises some serious questions," she said

"It also says a lot that the department would rather attack the messenger than address the serious issues raised."

Senator Siewert said she would raise the issue with officials from the DHS during estimates hearings on Thursday.