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Centrelink staff to struggle with scandal

10 January 2017

The public sector union is calling on the federal government to suspend its controversial Centrelink debt recovery system, warning the public will suffer as staff struggle to cope.
The CPSU says service standards have already dropped to unacceptable levels following thousands of job cuts in the Department of Human Services, with the latest scandal piling on more pressure.

The ombudsman has started investigating the Centrelink data-matching debacle

10 January 2017
Business Insider

After an intense week of complaints from customers, politicians, Legal Aid, the social services lobby and privacy groups, the Commonwealth ombudsman will investigate Centrelink’s debt data-matching programme.
The office of ombudsman Colin Neave on Monday afternoon confirmed it is looking into the matter.

Centrelink's debt debacle: It's going to get worse, says union

10 January 2017
The Age

Beleaguered Centrelink staff are bracing for a "perfect storm" of customer service problems in the coming weeks, heaping more misery on the welfare agency's millions of clients, according to the main workplace union.
The union says its members working on the controversial debt recovery scheme are reporting that nearly all the debts they are being asked to review turn out be bogus with cases, such as a demand for $9000 from a client who really owed just $90, pointing to a complete system failure.

Why Centrelink should adopt a light touch when data matching

10 January 2017
The Conversation

A properly designed income-matching system can help to identify anomalies, but the information needs to be appropriate and fit for purpose. The current exercise is using information in a way that it was not designed to be applied, without properly adjusting for the technical and policy differences between the tax and social security system.

Lawyers Reckon People Hit W/ Centrelink Shitstorm Might Be Able To Sue

9 January 2017
pedestrian TV

As the Centrelink debacle continues and the government resolutely refuses to pause the tide of debt notices – many of which describe debts that are not legitimate – it's understandable that people would be looking for blood. According to the Australian Lawyers Alliance, those issued with inaccurate debts may be able to sue Centrelink.

Centrelink debt recovery shambles makes small change of Ley's claims

9 January 2017
Brisbane Times

At least we know the Turnbull government's pursuit of millions of dollars in Centrelink debt from thousands of punters who don't actually owe them a brass razoo isn't just a grotesque indulgence. Turns out the government needs that money to prop up Queensland's real estate industry and apartment construction sector.

Centrelink Response to Questions on #notmydebt

9 January 2017
Eigen Magic blog

I emailed the Department of Human Services about the Centrelink #notmydebt fiasco that’s been in the news of late. The content of my emailed questions, and the DHS response are reproduced below. I’ve trimmed personal data and some header/footer guff, and played with some of the styling to make it more readable in this blog, but the content itself is verbatim.

Ombudsman to probe Centrelink in wake of debt recovery debacle

9 January 2017
ZD Net

The Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave has opened an investigation into the Centrelink automated debt recovery system that has come under fire for sending some letters demanding money repayment in error to welfare recipients.
A spokesperson for Neave told ZDNet the Ombudsman is aware of the concerns raised about the automated data matching system used by Centrelink, and has commenced an own-motion investigation into the matter.

Broken Centrelink system sending false debt notices to sick

9 January 2017
Sunshine Coast Daily

Centrelink's automated system, which has ramped up since October, is now sending 20,000 review letters about supposed discrepancies each week, with scores of Australians - including people with cancer - telling news.com.au of the anxiety, stress and even suicidal thoughts prompted by the debt letters that dropped through their mailboxes just before the festive period.

Bearing the brunt of state-sanctioned thuggery: the Centrelink debt debacle

9 January 2017
The Australian Independent Media Network

In a classic operation, most commonly perpetrated by telephone conmen and door-knocking scammers, the Turnbull Government has hit the jackpot. Boasting of returns of over $300 million after hitting up only 169,000 Australians, someone deep in the murky depths of Government has clearly been taking lessons from the lowest of predatory scumbags.

When ex-CDO’s go postal: Shetler

9 January 2017
Innovation Aus.com

The high error rate of Centrelink’s automated debt recovery operation is “catastrophic”, “shocking”, “appalling” and “extremely preventable,” according to the Turnbull Government’s former digital transformation tsar Paul Shetler.
If the government was hoping Mr Shetler would go quietly into the night after resigning as its chief digital officer in late November, it must be very, very disappointed right now.

A statement on Ombudsman’s decision to investigate Centrelink

9 January 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison

Many members of the community will gain some comfort from the news that the Commonwealth Ombudsman will indeed investigate Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system. I, and I understand my colleague Senator Nick Xenophon, had been pressing the Ombudsman for such an inquiry so this is a victory for common sense and appropriate oversight of government policy.

Australian government intensifies welfare “debt” crackdown

9 January 2017
World Socialist Web Site

In an attempt to meet corporate demands to slash social spending, the Liberal-National government of Malcolm Turnbull is escalating a welfare offensive initiated by the previous Labor government. Using an automated data-matching system introduced by Labor in 2011, it is dispatching thousands of “debt notices” every week, demanding that current and former welfare recipients repay hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars.