The Department of Human Services is accused of briefing a journalist about the case of welfare recipient and blogger Andie Fox, who wrote a column for Fairfax Media saying the agency “terrorised” her over an ex-partner’s debt.
The Centrelink fiasco keeps getting worse, writes Ben Eltham. Now the rogue department has leaked private information about ordinary citizens who have the temerity to criticise it.
Centrelink's decision to release a welfare recipient's personal information to a journalist is unprecedented and will have a chilling impact on public criticism, lawyers say.
Australia’s human services minister, Alan Tudge, relied on legal guidelines in parliament to justify the release of personal information to the media that his own department now says are irrelevant.
Tudge was criticised in parliament on Tuesday for releasing the personal details of welfare recipient Andie Fox, who was critical of Centrelink’s handling of her debt. Lawyers and welfare groups have already warned that the decision to release Fox’s details was legally debatable.
Centrelink has confirmed that they may release client's personal information in order to correct public statement of complaints, and this has comedian Bish Marzook worried. What if they tell a journalist she ate tomato sauce sandwiches to survive getting through university?
In an epic violation of trust, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge has intentionally given out a Centrelink client’s personal information to Fairfax media, as a part of a political campaign to discredit and silence Australians speaking out against the nightmare of Centrelink’s debt recovery program. The article, published by Fairfax media, contained personal information that was used to “correct the record”, but only serves to highlight the abuse of power within Federal Government departments who would rather be seen to silence criticism than fix the issue at hand.
Government efforts to crack down on welfare have fallen hundreds of millions of dollars short of their targets, the National Audit Office has found.
The new report shows a shortfall of $270 million on a target of $790 million from headline "compliance" efforts, announced by both Labor and Coalition governments since the 2012.
Information about a welfare recipient is considered protected but there are exceptions to the rule
Further to yesterday’s post on the release to Fairfax media of private information by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, the minister has justified his decision to take this action on the grounds that he is entitled by law to reveal personal details if the individual has made complaints in the media Centrelink considers false.
In other words, if you complain in the media about Centrelink, your private information can be released by that department in its own defence.
Labor has accused the Australian government of breaching privacy laws by leaking confidential information about Centrelink customers.
Privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has confirmed agency-specific laws can "override" the Privacy Act and hand some public service bosses the power to disclose personal information.
The Government's privacy watchdog wants answers from bureaucrats who provided a Centrelink client's personal details to a journalist in a bid to counter her public criticisms.
Public servants have also told ABC News they are concerned the disclosure could inadvertently breach the privacy undertakings of other departments who share their data with Department of Human Services (DHS).
Centrelink is taking "revenge" on critics of its controversial debt collection activities by publicly releasing their private information, according to the federal opposition.
Privacy commissioner asks Department of Human Services to explain why Andie Fox’s details were publicly released
“We don’t comment on particular cases”. Few lines are more ubiquitous in the public sphere. It is no surprise therefore, that the controversy regarding the disclosure of an individual’s personal information by the Department of Human Services has touched off enormous media comment and criticism.
Centrelink has released a welfare recipient’s personal information in order to defend itself against public criticism.
People pursued by Centrelink over its controversial "robo-debts" are being denied the protection of Australian consumer law, a Parliamentary inquiry has been told.
The welfare agency is exempt from laws and guidelines covering debt collection by private businesses, "even the much maligned banks", according to the chief executive of Victorian community organisation Family Care, David Tennant.
Just to make it clear: Centrelink has released the private details of an individual citizen without her permission in order to present Alan Tudge’s “side of the story.”
In case there might be any doubt about Tudge’s intentions, Paul Malone and Fairfax have confirmed in their headline that Tudge’s only goal is to use the personal information of a citizen to present his side of the story.
Activists accuse the Department of Human Services of releasing private personal information about a woman in an effort to silence her criticism of its much-maligned debt recovery drive, but the department maintains it has done nothing wrong and the privacy commissioner is looking into the case.
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.
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.
Labor is attempting to suspend the business of federal parliament, accusing the Turnbull government of breaching privacy laws by leaking confidential information about Centrelink customers.
Opposition human services spokeswoman Linda Burney moved a motion in the lower house on Tuesday, arguing the government had conducted a vindictive campaign to gag those who complain about the Centrelink scandal by leaking their details to the media.
Senior government officials have approved the release of a Centrelink recipient’s personal information to counter her public criticism of the department.
Complainants range from ABC 7.30 Report presenter, Leigh Sales, to disability pensioners and victims of Centrelink's debt recovery operations.
But could it be that sometimes the agency is being unfairly castigated?
Yesterday evening, news.com.au once more ran a misleading story about the department’s debt recovery processes, attempting to again wrongly link it to the online compliance system. Had the department been afforded an opportunity to investigate the cases featured in the story prior to publishing, we would have quickly corrected this erroneous assumption.