Australia markets close in 1 hour 23 minutes
  • ALL ORDS

    7,406.40
    +37.00 (+0.50%)
     
  • ASX 200

    7,213.70
    +38.20 (+0.53%)
     
  • AUD/USD

    0.6792
    +0.0016 (+0.23%)
     
  • OIL

    72.12
    +0.66 (+0.92%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,806.20
    +4.70 (+0.26%)
     
  • BTC-AUD

    25,346.52
    +381.27 (+1.53%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    405.98
    +11.30 (+2.86%)
     
  • AUD/EUR

    0.6417
    +0.0007 (+0.11%)
     
  • AUD/NZD

    1.0605
    -0.0012 (-0.11%)
     
  • NZX 50

    11,602.54
    -14.60 (-0.13%)
     
  • NASDAQ

    11,637.50
    +140.10 (+1.22%)
     
  • FTSE

    7,472.17
    -17.02 (-0.23%)
     
  • Dow Jones

    33,781.48
    +183.56 (+0.55%)
     
  • DAX

    14,264.56
    +3.37 (+0.02%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    19,713.87
    +263.64 (+1.36%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    27,946.21
    +371.78 (+1.35%)
     

Government to restart Centrelink debt recovery

Centrelink sign
The Government has said it will recommence debt recovery from Centrelink recipients. (Source: supplied)

The Labor Government has announced that Centrelink debt recovery will start up again after being paused during COVID and natural disasters.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said more than 17 per cent of JobSeeker payments were not accurate.

Many welfare recipients had been overpaid, with the debts owed by welfare recipients “drastically increased”.

Rishworth said some debts had been sitting in the system for over three years so “some people aren’t even aware that they’ve received too much money from Services Australia”.

Labor has blamed poor management by the Coalition government and staff cuts at Services Australia for the inaccurate payments.

“While the former Government paused debt recovery and compliance activity due to COVID lockdowns and natural disasters, they should have been taking steps to make sure people were getting the right amount of money in the first place,” Rishworth said.

Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten said the Government had a responsibility to take steps to recover debts and “therefore efforts to recover existing debts will need to recommence”.

He also said it would be possible for people with debts owing to enter into payment arrangements with Services Australia.

The Antipoverty Centre has criticised the decision to restart debt recovery, calling on the Government to waive existing Centrelink debts given that the bulk of debts were caused by “administrative error and confusing rules”.

“First they abandoned us by ruling out urgently needed payment increases,” Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and Disability Support Pension recipient Kristin O’Connell said, referring to Labor's refusal to boost Centrelink Jobseeker payments above the poverty line if elected.

“Now they’re sticking the boot in by seeking to extract money we just don’t have to repay so-called debts we don’t even realise are hanging over us,” O’Connell added.

O’Connell also called for Centrelink debts to be halted until the model was redesigned to be centred on payment accuracy, including identification of underpayments to be back paid.

O’Connell said welfare recipients were in no position to receive a Centrelink debt notice given the rising costs of food, housing and electricity.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to the free Fully Briefed daily newsletter.