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Students accused of welfare fraud say Centrelink's sums are wrong

16 December 2016
James Purtill
triple j Hack

from the article:

Former and current students say Centrelink is falsely accusing them of being welfare cheats and saddling them with thousands of dollars of debt. […] It's the result of a brand new system that matches the income you declared to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with the income you declared to Centrelink. It's able to go as far back as 2010. When it detects a disparity, it automatically generates and dispatches a letter. For the Government, it's all about clawing back billions of dollars believed to have been incorrectly paid to welfare recipients. 

The Department of Human Services, which operates Centrelink, says it is not aware of any problems with its new automated system. It also says there are no online access problems.

Despite these assurances, Independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie is calling on Centrelink to shut the system down. He says he is hearing from "distraught and terrified" people hit with "incorrect" debt notices. Hack has heard similar stories. Wilkie says the system has "gone rogue".

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