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Confusion in Centrelink about removal of six-year expiry date on debts

18 January 2017
The Mandarin

Before January 1, Centrelink debts expired if the agency ignored them for six years. Now it can pursue them at any time like the Tax Office, but within the agency there is confusion about the implications.
There’s apparently a view in the agency that now there is nothing stopping the automated compliance program from going back through tax and welfare records “indefinitely” to find new debts to raise.

It's time to target the top end of town and the obscene profits of the super-rich

17 January 2017

While apparent flaws in the Centrelink welfare crackdown have been a focus of public discussion, the controversy has rightly prompted indignation at a policy targeting members of our community who are struggling to make ends meet, while at the same time, more than one in three large corporations paid no Australian tax in the past financial year.
The debate provides a timely opportunity to look at the top end of town, where wealth is concentrated in Australia.

Government must abandon Centrelink’s Auto-Debt Recovery Program to prevent further harm

17 January 2017
Australian Council Of Social Services

In a statement today, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “This error-riddled Auto-Debt Recovery Program must be stopped without further delay. The tweaks announced by the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge do not address the fundamental problems and serious concerns expressed by us and a broad range of stakeholders.

Turnbull has pensioners and people with disability in his sights

17 January 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, Labor Member for Barton

Reports today reveal that the Turnbull Government’s attack on pensioners and people with disability is set to extend to the Centrelink debt recovery debacle.
Around 3 million pensioners and people with disability are in the sights of the Turnbull Government’s error riddled debt recovery program.

Centrelink debt recovery scheme: Ombudsman to meet welfare groups this week over controversial program

17 January 2017
ABC News

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is wasting no time in starting its investigation into the Federal Government's welfare debt claw-back scheme, scheduling meetings around the country this week to quiz welfare groups about the impact of the controversial project.
The Ombudsman's office said it would be holding roundtable discussions with "stakeholders" as part of the investigation it launched earlier this month.

Pensioners and disabled next in line in Centrelink robo-debt campaign

17 January 2017
Canberra Times

The Coalition government is going to target more than 3 million of elderly and disabled Australians with its controversial Centrelink "robo-debt" campaign, Parliamentary documents show.
The mid-year economic forecast tables published last week shows the government has booked savings of $1.1 billion from data-matching the aged pension and another $400 million from the disability support pension.

Misleading claims about online compliance system

16 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Commentary on the department’s online compliance system continues to incorrectly say 20 per cent of letters are being issued in error. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the process.
Initial notices request information to explain differences in earned income between the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink records. These result in a debt in 80 per cent of cases. The remaining 20 per cent are instances where people have explained the difference and don’t owe any money following assessment of this updated information.
This is how the system is designed to work, in line with the legal requirements of welfare recipients to report all changes in circumstances and the department’s obligation to protect government outlays.

Welfare payments: More pressure for Federal Government to make changes to the Centrelink debt recovery process

16 January 2017
ABC Radio Canberra

The ACT Council of Social Service has written to Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja seeking his support to suspend the program while issues are resolved.
ACTCOSS director Susan Helyar spoke with ABC Radio Canberra breakfast host Dan Bourchier about the debt recovery system and what changes they would like to see.

New ReachTel poll shows Turnbull popularity slammed over Centrelink, entitlements saga

16 January 2017

An Australian of the Year finalist has also become embroiled in the Centrelink debt recovery debacle, after being sent an incorrect debt notice due to the automatic debt recovery system.
Queensland medical researcher Dr Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily and lives off the age pension, was sent a debt notice for $7600, The Guardian reports.
The latest reports comes as a new poll shows the Turnbull Government’s popularity has taken a hit in the wake of problems with the Centrelink debt recovery system and MPs’ entitlements.

Centrelink robo-debt: public servants removed for asking too many questions, says Andrew Wilkie

16 January 2017

Centrelink public servants who ask too many questions about their agency's controversial "robo-debt" recovery effort are being "managed" out of debt recovery units, according to independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent also alleges public servants are being played against each other by managers, competing for the highest daily quota of debt notices.

Centrelink debt recovery scheme - It’s time to repair our broken welfare system

16 January 2017
Australian Association of Social Workers

Centrelink’s automated debt recovery system and its policies of coercion and confusion are causing significant distress to many disadvantaged Australians, the Vice-President of the Australian Association of Social Workers, Christine Craik, said today.
“People look to their government for support, not intimidation,” Ms Craik said.