Centrelink Robo-Debt Debacle


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:39): Well, it is time for the human services minister and the Prime Minister to admit that their robo-debt system has been an unmitigated disaster. Over 40 per cent of the letters that have been sent out to people around the country have proven to be false. Government MPs know this to be true, because in electorates all over the country they have been in inundated with complaints from their constituents distressed about the Centrelink robo-debt debacle—real people who have done nothing wrong being treated like petty thieves over fake debt through fake leadership.

I want to talk to you about a 77-year-old pensioner from my electorate. Her name is Margaret. She received a debt notice of $467.44 but, after contacting Centrelink to correct the mistake, this was increased to over $1,300. But she did not owe the government one single cent.    Margaret retired in December 2010, did the right thing and reported her final income. Centrelink then claimed she had an unreported earning for the following year, when she was earning nothing. Without consultation, $100 was deducted from every pension payment for this fake debt—an absurd amount of a pensioner's pay. After four months of stress, Centrelink finally resolved the problem.