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Illawarra pensioner caught up in Centrelink debt letter ‘disaster’

7 February 2017
Illawarra Mercury

Whitlam MP Stephen Jones has used federal parliament’s first sitting day for 2017 to take aim at the government’s Centrelink debt recovery system “disaster”.
Mr Jones on Tuesday told the story of Margaret, a 77-year-old pensioner from his electorate, who received a debt notice of $467.44 as part of the automated system.

Andrew Wilkie speaks on Centrelink debt debacle

7 February 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, moved a motion in the House of Representatives shortly after midday today calling on the Minister for Human Services to acknowledge that the Centrelink debt recovery program has been a disaster and must be shut down immediately.
Mr Wilkie was responding to overwhelming community concern over the financial and emotional hardship the scheme has caused with about 4,000 incorrect debt notices being issued each week.
A copy of the motion follows in full.

Centrelink scandal: Labor and Greens likely to force inquiry into debt recovery system

7 February 2017
The Guardian

Labor and the Greens have proposed a wide-ranging Senate inquiry into the Centrelink debt scandal, which would examine how the system went “so dismally wrong at the expense of struggling Australians”.
The Labor senator Doug Cameron and the Greens senator Rachel Siewert gave notice of their proposed inquiry to the Senate on Tuesday afternoon and it is likely to pass a vote on Wednesday, with One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team previously expressing support.

Centrelink and Other Public Service Workers to Take Industrial Action

7 February 2017
ProBono Australia

Staff in the Department of Human Services including Centrelink workers are planning six days of rolling strikes over a stalled enterprise bargaining process and the auto-debt recovery program, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.
The union said Centrelink, Medicare and child support workers would strike and take other forms of industrial action at various times and various locations starting on 13 February.

Greens and Labor to move for Senate inquiry on Centrelink automated debt systems

7 February 2017
SMH

Labor and the Greens are set to force a Senate inquiry into Centrelink's controversial automated debt recovery system, an issue that had dogged the federal government for more than two months.
The Senate will vote on a motion to establish a wide-ranging probe on Wednesday as the government continues to defend data-matching of records held by government agencies to recover millions in overpayments to welfare recipients.

Centrelink, Medicare warns customers of 'disruptions' as public servants strike

7 February 2017
West Coast Sentinel

Centrelink is warning customers of disruption next week as public servants at the welfare agency prepare for days of strike action over a three-year pay dispute and the controversial "robo-debt" program.
[...]
But the department's main workplace union, the CPSU, says public servants trying to resolve disputes caused by Centrelink's controversial "robo-debt" recovery policy will not be walking off the job.

Centrelink staff to strike against ‘ideological attack’ by government

6 February 2017
The New Daily

Centrelink staff will launch two weeks of targeted industrial action over the Turnbull government’s “ideological attack” on the Department of Human Services.
[...]
CPSU spokesman Dermot Browne said the government was warned “years ago” by union members that the automated debt system was going to backfire, but pushed ahead anyway.

Centrelink staff to strike over debt scandal, budget cuts and pay

6 February 2017
The Guardian

Union says problems ‘far deeper’ than welfare agency’s controversial automated debt recovery system.
[...]
“Our members are doing this because they care about the quality of the services they provide, which is why workers dealing with sensitive clients such as those being dragged through the robo-debt crisis will not be taking industrial action,” [the CPSU rep] said. “These workers are among the lowest paid in the commonwealth public sector and stand to lose the most under the government’s harsh public-sector bargaining policy."

Eric Abetz says Centrelink’s robo-debt system has 'let down' Australians

2 February 2017
The Guardian

The Liberal senator Eric Abetz said Centrelink’s debt recovery system has “let down the Australian people”, while refusing to rule out support for Labor’s proposed Senate inquiry.
Sustained criticism over the system’s tendency to issue bogus debts to vulnerable Australians continues to place pressure on Liberal politicians in Tasmania.

Alternative facts in the Centrelink debacle

2 February 2017
Eureka Street

Over Christmas 2016 and the early weeks of 2017, Centrelink's new policy of automated online debt collection has been subject to conflicting reports, making us wonder what version of truth we might best believe.
The Minister and the department head are sticking to the assertion that everything is working fine. It would be surprising if these assertions were deliberate lies.
Yet there is another version of the truth, and it is compelling.

No answer from Zed - local welfare recipients await action on Robo-Debt Program

31 January 2017
ACT Council of Social Services Inc

The ACT Council of Social Service Inc. (ACTCOSS) again today calls on Senator Zed Seselja to stand up for people in the ACT caught up in the Federal Government’s Centrelink Robo-Debt Recovery Program.
ACTCOSS Director, Susan Helyar, says that the government’s Debt Recovery Program is an unjust prosecution of our communities’ most vulnerable, who need support from local MPs.

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