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Tudge incompetence causing Centrelink debt recovery chaos

22 December 2016
Senator Doug Cameron
Doug Cameron, Labour Senator for NSW

More Australians are coming forward with accounts of being sent incorrect Centrelink debt notices as confidence in the Turnbull Government's latest so called 'welfare crackdown' continues to erode.

Labor is very concerned about the accuracy of Centrelink's debt recovery program, more and more honest, law abiding Australians are being caught up in the Turnbull Government's latest policy debacle.

Yesterday the Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, showed his trademark incompetence.  Asked on Triple J radio about Centrelink threatening people with a 10% ‘recovery fee’, he admitted he did not even know that Centrelink issued such threats.

That Mr Tudge doesn’t know that people are being threatened with an extra 10% charge on top of already incorrect debts shows a shocking level of ignorance of his own Department’s actions.

Mr Tudge has been threatening vulnerable Australians with prison if they do not pay up, saying:

“We’ll find you, we’ll track you down and you will have to repay those debts and you may end up in prison.” - A Current Affair, Monday 5th December

Mr Tudge's threats of prison and financial penalties are terrifying ordinary Australians right on the eve of Christmas.

Of course, people who do the wrong thing and rort the system should be made to repay the money - that's only fair.

But far too many Australians who appear to have done nothing wrong are being caught up in the Turnbull Government's drag net approach. 

The Turnbull Government must fix this mess. 

They must stop harassing vulnerable Australians with incorrect debt notices from Centrelink. 

Five questions for Alan Tudge to answer:

  • How is the Minister determining who is being sent debt notices by Centrelink?
  • What is the Minister doing to ensure that incorrect letters are not being sent to honest, law-abiding Australians? 
  • Why are so many incorrect debts being raised against Centrelink clients?
  • What is the nature of the special ‘compliance unit’ that deals with mistakes and incorrect debts, and why can’t people go to Centrelink in person to have their incorrect debt problem solved?
  • What is the Minister going to do to fix the problems with the Centrelink online service portal that is preventing some social security recipients challenging debt notices?