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Government backs Centrelink debt system despite 'incorrect' $24,000 demand

29 December 2016
Christopher Knaus
Guardian

from the article:

The system has been described as a “drag net”, which sends out about 20,000 notices a week that effectively reverse the onus of proof onto welfare recipients. 

Many individuals do not receive the initial letter from Centrelink, due to either a change of address or the lack of a MyGov account. If no dispute is made, the government takes it to mean that the debt is accurate. 

The government is charging 10% debt recovery fees, and [human services minister, Alan Tudge] has threatened those who do not pay with jail. Many problems appear to stem from the comparison of annual pay information reported to the tax office with the income reported to Centrelink fortnightly. 

Labor, [Independent MP Andrew Wilkie], and the Australian Council for Social Service (Acoss) have all called for the system to be temporarily suspended pending an investigation into the complaints.