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Centrelink stuffs up - big time.

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Media Release

Allan Morris, MP

Federal Member for Newcastle


12 May, 1999





Centrelink has sent thousands of letters to welfare recipients wrongly claiming that they owed money, according to the Member for Newcastle, Mr Allan Morris.


The pro-forma letter, which Mr Morris released today, was sent by Centrelink Canberra to some 1,700 beneficiaries in the Hunter. Centrelink staff have advised Mr Morris that it was a major error and that the date was based on a computer download of 30 March but posted in early May.


While Centrelink claim that all recipients would have owed money at some time Mr Morris has spoken to a constituent who did not owe money but was recently moved to a different benefit.


“If one takes this case, where the amount falsely claimed was over $1,000 across the 1,700 Hunter people affected, we are looking at about $2 million in the Hunter alone and nationally some 20,000 people and over $20 million,” Mr Morris said.


“There must also be a question as to whether these figures have been wrongly included in the budget preparation and this exaggerates the amount owed to the government by welfare beneficiaries.


“I am also deeply disturbed by the content of the letter. It will be a dreadful shock for someone to receive a letter as vicious as this one when one doesn’t owe the government a single cent.


“It is obvious that the constant cuts to Centrelink staff is causing more and more errors. This, combined with the deliberate bad-mouthing of welfare beneficiaries, means that thousands of innocent Australians are effectively being accused of welfare fraud,” concluded Mr Morris.


For further information contact: Mr Allan Morris on 6277 4767




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