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Welfare crackdown figures misleading



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Senator Andrew Bartlett Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Welfare and Community Housing

Press Release Dated: 11 Oct 2000

Press Release Number: 00/621 Portfolio: Welfare and Community Housing 

WELFARE CRACKDOWN FIGURES MISLEADING

Family Payment ‘debts’ in doubt.

The Government is unfairly inflating the amount of welfare fraud, according to the Australian Democrats.

In a recent tribunal ruling it was found that Centrelink had wrongly raised a debt against a recipient of Family Payment. Thousands of other families have had debts raised in the same way involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Many of the Family Payment debts in Centrelink’s Compliance report are ‘no fault’ debts. Families are asked to provide an estimate of their income for Family Payment. When their estimate is ultimately out by more than 10%, Centrelink raises a debt,” said Senator Andrew Bartlett the Democrats’ welfare spokesperson.

“It is untrue and unfair to class these people as welfare rorters. They provide an estimate in good faith. For many people on rural properties or with small businesses, it is simply impossible to predict factors that might affect income received for the year.

“Where the estimate was too low, Centrelink did not pay arrears owing, but when it is too high it classes these people as cheats,” said Senator Bartlett.

“A recent case in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) had proven that many Family Payment debts arising from an estimate could not legally be raised by Centrelink. This decision has implications for thousands of recipients currently repaying debts, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In question time today, Senator Bartlett asked the Minister for Family and Community Services Senator Jocelyn Newman, what the Government would do about this case. The Minister said she was not aware of it.

“It is of concern that the Minister was not aware of this issue. The Government must decide what they intend to do about these debts and whether money already recovered will be given back to

families,” said Senator Bartlett.

“I call on the Minister for Community Services to stop branding as ‘welfare cheats’, ordinary Australian families who are acting in good faith,” concluded Senator Bartlett.

 

Top | Email Authorised by: Jim Downey, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2604. Copyright © 2000 Australian Democrats

http://www.democrats.org.au/media/display.htm Last modified: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:51:26 Today: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 08:53:58