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Repayment of pensioner debts.

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Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Minister for Family & Community Services

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

Repayment of Pensioner Debts 24 August 2003

Claims that I think that aged pensioners should simply have their houses sold from under them if they incur a debt are simply rubbish.

Specialist Centrelink officers look at each case individually when assessing a customer's ability to repay a debt.

If a customer can't pay a debt back in full without placing them in undue hardship, Centrelink will negotiate individually tailored repayment arrangements. This may include fortnightly repayments out of future welfare payments that are sensitive to a customer's financial situation.

Centrelink has a legislative responsibility to recover amounts owing to the Commonwealth and taxpayers expect that if a welfare recipient has done the wrong thing then they should pay the money back.

A customer's individual financial circumstances are always taken into account. If someone has significant assets, obviously they have to be taken into consideration.