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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 275


Mr FEENEY (Batman) (13:54): As the Turnbull government stumbles from disaster to catastrophe, there is one particular incident that should remain front of mind. Numerous Batman families and pensioners have been contacting me over recent weeks concerning the disastrous Centrelink debt notices that they have received because of this government's mismanagement and incompetence.

The error-prone robo-debt system has resulted in the wrong outcome over 20 per cent of the time—some speculate, up to 40 per cent. At least 20,000 people are affected every single week.

We saw this government's census fail. We saw, in more recent days, the ATO go offline. We know that this government struggles to manage any communication system of any kind. But this is completely unacceptable, when so many innocent people have been so detrimentally affected. As if that were not enough, the program also reverses the onus of proof, so people who have no debt, and do not respond to the letter, automatically have their debt raised.

Enough is enough. Too many people in my community are being accused of fraud. This is causing an incredible amount of stress and anxiety for people who have done nothing wrong. On the weekend, I had one constituent describe to me how she was contacted by the debt collector before she was even contacted by Centrelink. Even Eric Abetz—that notorious champion for freedom!—has agreed that this accident-prone robo-debt system has made too many mistakes and is hurting innocent Australians. (Time expired)