Centrelink’s system ‘needs to be junked’

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THE case of a single mother who had nearly $40,000 withdrawn from her account by Centrelink has prompted Dunkley MP Peta Murphy to support scrapping the robodebt system.

Ms Murphy said that “since I’ve been the member for Dunkley, members of my community have contacted my office, often in desperation and always in frustration, seeking help to resolve debt notices or procedural unfairness in their dealings with Centrelink.”

“A single mother of four struggling to make ends meet with the settlement from the breakdown of her marriage, her only financial security, woke on a Thursday to find that she only had $28 in her bank account to get through the weekend. Overnight, Centrelink had withdrawn $39,000 for a debt that they say she owed from 2015. Apparently they didn’t have the capacity to find the address that she’d moved to following the breakdown of her marriage, but they did have the capacity to find her bank account, which used her new address, and withdraw all the money she had. Where’s the procedural fairness in that?” Ms Murphy said.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert last week announced that the federal government would make changes to the debt recovery system.

“If the system is dodgy enough that it needs to be junked, then what happens to all those people who have already been victims of robodebt? What happens to the money obtained improperly by the Commonwealth?” Ms Murphy said.

First published in the Frankston Times – 25 November 2019

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