Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, today voiced serious concerns about the Turnbull government’s new attack on the most vulnerable members of our community via Centrelink’s new automated debt recovery program.
“My office is receiving an increasing number of calls and emails from people told by Centrelink that they owe thousands of dollars, and have been threatened with jail.
“This is despite the fact they have done the right thing and reported their income to Centrelink.
“My Labor colleagues and I have serious concerns that many honest Australians are being caught up in a drag net approach by the Turnbull Government.”
One Ballarat resident has been told that they have had a debt raised as a result of income they received as a student in 2012.
This is not an isolated incident.
Labor believes that people who do the wrong thing and take advantage of our social security system should be investigated and made to repay the money.
However this dragnet approach is putting vulnerable Australians who have done nothing wrong under serious stress and may even be pushing them into hardship, breaching Centrelink’s own internal guidelines.
Community members with concerns about Centrelink debt notices should contact the National Welfare Rights Network on 1800 094 164, or Catherine King’s office on 5338 8123.
THURSDAY, 5 JANUARY 2017