Centrelink is pursuing overpayments again
As we reported in December 2021, Services Australia granted welfare recipients, including Age Pensioners, a debt reprieve until January 2022. The Minister, Linda Reynolds, stated at the time that debt recovery programs would be paused until early January, with debt payments scheduled to restart in July this year. Reports last week reveal that Services Australia (the department responsible for Centrelink) is in the process of hiring private investigators to gather evidence on claimants who are suspected of wrongdoing. The planned surveillance is believed to include both cameras and audio bugging devices.
One major concern about any planned surveillance is, of course, the possibility of error. Enquiries into the ill-fated Robodebt automated recovery scheme revealed that mistakes were made in the pursuit of welfare overpayments and these mistakes had resulted in severe hardship for many of those concerned. A class action was successfully prosecuted against the Robodebt program, citing 470,000 wrongly issued debt notices. A settlement of $1.2 Billion is still being paid to members of this successful class action.
What do you think? Is this the right way to deal with overpayments, given the previous Robodebt failure?
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