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The LNP war on welfare recipients

5 January 2017
No Place For Sheep

Yesterday I watched, incredulous (I know, only a fool with no sense of the immediate past could continue to be startled by any action performed by this government) as Minister for Social Services Christian Porter claimed across the media that the Centrelink debt recovery process was working just fine, and the fact that a “few” citizens are being unfairly targeted was of no great consequence. If they’re upset, too bad, get over it, there’s nothing wrong with our process, was Porter’s basic message.

Here are some of the things that are wrong with the Centrelink process.

How Turnbull plans to raise $4.6 billion from unemployed.

11 January 2017
No Place For Sheep

The Turnbull government plans to raise a windfall of $4.6 billion over the next four years, and this is how they intend to do it.
Centrelink is averaging annual earnings over every fortnightly reporting period. This means that you are determined by them to have earned income at the same time as you received unemployment benefits. Therefore, you must pay those benefits back.

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.

Turnbull risks alienating voters one letter at a time

6 January 2017
The Australian

Malcolm Turnbull and his ministers are playing with political fire in their hunt for $4 billion in savings from the welfare system by sending off letters to thousands of Australians with a clear warning that debt collectors will be called in to recover old payments.
The blowback from voters is already dangerous and is certain to get worse when the vast program grows across time. The vitriolic complaints about the exercise during the past few weeks have been based on the first batch of 169,000 letters from Centrelink that assume welfare recipients need to repay some of their benefits. It is a taste of things to come.

Billionaires get more leeway than vulnerable citizens. It’s obscene

4 January 2017
Guardian

As anyone who has ever tried to describe it knows, the Australian welfare system is exceedingly complex. Indeed, over the past three decades there have been repeated attempts to build computerised “expert systems” to help Centrelink staff get a clear understanding of exactly who is eligible for what. All attempts have failed. Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted on the futile effort to clearly define eligibility.
But the impossibility of accurately defining eligibility has not stopped the Turnbull government from using crude data matching to justify sending intimidating letters to large numbers of Australians, an estimated 20% of which are in error.

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