16th Jan 2018

Centrelink confesses to $2.84 billion overpayment bungle

Centrelink confesses to $2.84 billion overpayment bungle

In its latest bungle, Centrelink last year overpaid welfare recipients $2.84 billion, the new Human Services Minister Michael Keenan has confessed. The Department of Human Services (DHS) paid around 2.4 million people an average of $1174 each more than they were entitled to receive during the year.

The figures were released by the Federal Government last week, with human error and fraud blamed for the overpayments.

"It is important that the system operates with integrity, that people are not overpaid more than they are entitled to," said Mr Keenan.

DHS has only recovered about $1.64 billion to date, with debt collectors used to retrieve $126 million.



The Federal Opposition was quick to comment on the release of the data, with Labor frontbencher Doug Cameron saying that the Turnbull government was incompetent in its running of Centrelink.

"Last year, 55 million calls went unanswered to Centrelink and average call wait times have increased," Mr Cameron said.

What do you think? Are the overpayment numbers concerning? What would you do if Centrelink overpaid you and then demanded you repay the money?


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COMMENTS

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Fiona
16th Jan 2018
10:23am
When my husband, who had been on disability payments died a few years ago a week after turning 65, I was told by Centrelink that I would be getting a Widow's allowance.
I did, but a few months later I was sent a letter asking fort he money I had been paid as they now said I wasn't entitled to it. Luckily I had enough in the bank to pay it back. I just wish they would get things right in the first place when they have been given all the information they asked for.
john
16th Jan 2018
12:12pm
Fiona , that story is a woeful one , what cruel nasty little machine the government has to destroy people and their faith in a terribly warped badly run and robbed, special pension fund.
I stand amazed at the terrible way both major parties handle money.
Agenda is the only reason or they would do more sensible things.
Why we vote the same two parties in has got me baffled.
MrsBrownthethird
16th Jan 2018
10:27am
its there bungle and not ours. So we should not have to pay the money back to them as they did the bloomer and not us
Pancake
16th Jan 2018
10:37am
Hope you never erroneously over pay someone because if you do don't expect the over payment back.
HDRider
16th Jan 2018
10:55am
No excuse for either overpaying or accepting, if the money isn't yours give it back. You know what you are entitled to, if you don't you have to ask
Knows-a-lot
16th Jan 2018
11:13am
If it goes straight into your bank account, it might not be noticed for a while.
Cowboy Jim
16th Jan 2018
11:34am
Getting an assessment once a year telling me what I am entitled to.
Could it be some people got some money from somewhere and forget to inform Centrelink about that. True I do not check my statement all that frequently either but a few hundred more I would certainly notice.
greatgolly
16th Jan 2018
11:52am
The fact of Centrelink overpaying is not a surprise, but for anyone saying that it's Centrelink's fault so I should keep it, that is totally wrong, it shows lack of ethics and morality. As 'Pancake' says, it's not yours, mistakes do happen; when you visit a Centrelink office, look around, there are not enough employees to deal with things, overworked employees always brings problems, mistakes are inevitable, but still, their mistake is not your bonus! 'Pancake', it's good to see honesty in any form, not enough these days!
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:47pm
Oh, I don't know.... we could apply the politician rule and just say -

"Oh, well, I over-claimed on my allowance.... get or it ... plenty more where that came from".
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
2:11pm
I still haven't been able to work out what all those payments I got form Centrelink during the GFC were all about. They have never asked for anything back. Do you think it is safe to use them after all this time as it's well out side the time anyone is allowed to claim a debt?
OnlyGenuineRainey
18th Jan 2018
8:12pm
Lucky you to get them, BB. My partner and I had zero income at the time and got nothing.
johnp
1st Feb 2018
3:18pm
I like that one by trebor "the politician rule". We should all use that rule when dealing with any govt entity. Basically means one can get away with anything they like and rip off the public purse !!
Pancake
16th Jan 2018
10:36am
How much did the debt collectors charge to recover the $126m? In other words, what is the net debt collections figure?
Knows-a-lot
16th Jan 2018
11:11am
Excellent question!
greatgolly
16th Jan 2018
11:54am
Wouldn't need debt collectors if everyone was honest, we check our bank accounts weekly, do you?
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
12:12pm
Many people have no idea what they should be getting paid in the first place so how is checking your bank account going to help?
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:48pm
More importantly, whose mates were they to cop a sweet contract for doing what the Guv only had to send letters out about and then recoup?
OnlyGenuineRainey
16th Jan 2018
3:26pm
If the system wasn't so hideously complex and Centrelink updated more promptly when advised of changes, there would be far less errors and people would have more hope of knowing when there was a mistake.
Rae
17th Jan 2018
9:42am
Yes. The National Accounts should be very transparent when it comes to these issues. All monies should be accounted for so we can see who exactly is getting how much and what it all costs.
Knows-a-lot
18th Jan 2018
1:40pm
Agreed, Rainey. If one tries phoning Centrelink, one almost never gets through.
marto
16th Jan 2018
10:42am
This organisation seems to be a bunch of incompetent idiots why the hell does this government continue with its existing management possibly because the minister responsible is so incompetent as well why the hell do we continue to allow this and put these moron in power
Knows-a-lot
16th Jan 2018
11:14am
Centrelink and the LNP are equally useless.
Jen50
16th Jan 2018
10:52am
I was overpaid child allowance years ago but fortunately had enough savings to cover it. It would be terribly stressful for those who didn’t have the money. I think Centeelink should wear their mistakes. I used to work in an Apprenticeship Centre where we paid incentives to employers and apprentices on behalf of the Government. If we didn’t assess the payment claim correctly and paid an incentive they weren’t entitled to, WE had to repay the Government, not the apprenticemor employer. It was a rare occurrence because we were so careful but the Government rules were very complex and changed regularly so that assessing claims was very difficult and stressful. It’s the reason I retired 2 years earlier than I had planned.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
12:42pm
That is the basis of the problem. There are so many rules and regulations, handouts, rebates, concessions and everyone is treated differently in many cases.

Not only ensuring mistakes but costing taxpayers far too much in administration.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:50pm
Guaranteed minimum income without strings, Rae?
Rae
17th Jan 2018
9:45am
Not sure about the no strings but certainly something a bit equitable and transparent would be a bonus.

Personnel I still think young unemployed should be given government jobs and then helped to find other work.

With the huge increase in population and so many relying on welfare it will get to a point where it is unaffordable.

Then again that might very well be the plan from these far right ideologists.
HDRider
16th Jan 2018
10:53am
The government does NOT run Centerlink, they merely issue directives and attempt to oversee it all.
The person who does run Centrelink is one Hank Jongen the bloke that used to get on TV and threaten everyone!
Ask why this incompetent man is still even working at Centrelink had it been a public company he would be unemployed!
Cowboy Jim
16th Jan 2018
11:37am
Henk Jongen is only the mouthpiece for the current as well as the previous Govts. He follows orders and comes across as a helpful bloke. I would not want his job.
greatgolly
16th Jan 2018
12:10pm
Wanting or not wanting his job is irrelevant, and I do believe he needs to find another job, it's the fact that nobody in Centrelink cares, all they want is the paycheck and that's it, otherwise why is it when they are told about rorters, as in the cases I presented to them in writing, handed to them, then as I leave I watch their actions and those letters go immediately into the waste basket, so I don't do it anymore!

There are people who are travelling the world 9 month of the year, receiving a full pension, yet spending sometimes twice or three times that, just on their travels. On one occasion, they had their photo taken because they travelled so much in one single year, estimation, they possible spent over a million on cruising to do that, and to my knowledge it's been like that for years; they are one of many, but does Centrelink care, I doubt it, they've never been investigated.

Centrelink told us that through customs they know when you leave the country, where you go, and when you come back, so I told them it's crap, else why do these rich folk still spend millions on cruising and still get full Centrelink pensions, why, do you know?
Rae
16th Jan 2018
12:52pm
great golly. I think you have an overestimate of the cost of cruising.

A round the world 104 day trip is around $32 000.

Many people are spending down the extra $200 000 or so that is stopping them from getting a full pension as there is no way you can invest to earn the same income.

Some are selling expensive assets like mobile homes, boats, paintings etc and spending down the money as they can no longer live on investments making low returns or carrying high risks.

The maths has been explained.

Also undocumented hearsay reports are often just binned as in many cases it is just green eyed spite.

It is possible these people have saved, missed out because they saved but are spending now on travelling as they don't club, gamble, smoke or drink.

And travel is documented. It is not illegal to travel.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:51pm
Upper management on contract - Fat Hank is scared of losing his contracted job, thus undermining any independence he may have as a public servant. He has no option but to abide by the dictates of his political masters....
Triss
16th Jan 2018
4:55pm
It would be interesting to know what his pension will be, Trebor, after he’s finished paring down the OAP.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
5:59pm
But, but Rae - surely you know that all these people making these statements spend 24/7 checking mail boxes and shadowing their victims around to see how and where they spend their money?

It's obvious..... must be hundreds of thousands of people out there with nothing else to do than chase after their neighbours in case they are rorting Centrelink....
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
8:35pm
Triss - his pension will be as fat as he is...
Dobbo1
16th Jan 2018
11:01am
My wife and I declared all our income and assets to Centrelink, 3 times last year, and they still overpaid us, even when I brought this to their attention. I am now waiting for a letter to pay them back (not a huge amount I hope). Should it be 3 strikes and they're out!!! I finally got them to correct, but only after I went to them recently, with all relevant information (again).
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
11:21am
Justin Bolt from Centrelink has told me that Centrelink only access your income and assets twice a year even though you may report them more often.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
12:55pm
Oh the joy of a means tested nightmare. No wonder sensible countries don't bother with this inequity that costs a fortune and still not be right.
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
2:15pm
It simply amazes me with means testing as the same simple car as be valued differently for everyone that has one. Multiply that over everyone's assets and you have a nightmare.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
3:06pm
Try figuring out how the hell they charge for aged care. It seems to be made up as they go along and nobody has the same experience as anyone else.

How they work out the value of a car, or house, or boat is quite strange. Nothing resembling reality if you had to sell the asset straight away.
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
11:00pm
I just value them for the price I would get today and it's real fire sale prices.
mogo51
16th Jan 2018
11:05am
Of course this money should be returned, but it is obviously harder to get it back, than give it out. This type of behaviour by CL is nothing new.
Having a lot of dealings with them when I was on the DSP, I found many of their staff disinterested, incompetent or both.
I have been trying to get linked up to MYGov for 2 years, been to them several times and they cannot solve the problem - care factor zero!
And we pays this circus that they call Parliament and Politicians excess amounts and ongoing rorts by way of salary and 'add ons' that they give themselves.
I wish this site would start a real campaign aimed at uniting all Pensioners to come together and get rid of all of them. There are plenty of intelligent, clear thinking and honest people out there who would step up and do the job a lot better.
marto
16th Jan 2018
12:55pm
Good luck mogo all that comes from here is huff and puff no guts here they seem to complain but are not prepared to do any thing about it so it seems its all too difficult so the train continues and next year be the same I like you are disappointed with retirees as well in the end they have no one but them selves to blame and the bunch of morons in canberra continue on pathetic
Rae
16th Jan 2018
12:56pm
You can't blame staff for a system that is so complicated and that changes so many times that just about everyone has given up on it. It must be a nightmare working there.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:53pm
.. especially when many these days have no security of tenure and are part-time casuals..... and the PS is a proving ground for ongoing affirmative action with all of its failings.
Crazy Horse
16th Jan 2018
11:05am
The Abbot / Turnbull Liberal Government have sacked 5,000 staff from Centrelink. Of course there are consequences in efficiency and inability to properly assess entitlements.

This same group of incompetent muppets cut 3,000 staff from the Australian Taxation Office. Everyone of them recouped his/her salary many times over. Most of these tax experts are now working for private companies helping people to minimise their tax.
Old Man
16th Jan 2018
12:55pm
Can you provide proof of these figures Crazy Horse? It's very easy to pop in here, make a few statements and clear off but, sometimes, it's harder to provide the facts to verify statements.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
1:00pm
I've seen the same figures documented in the Australian Financial Review.

I also read a book about the attacks by Credlin on the Public Service that resulted in a decimation of experienced personnel. Most have gone onto better jobs or are being contracted at higher prices to try to fix the mess.
Old Man
16th Jan 2018
3:37pm
Thanks Rae, your link to the Australian Financial Review is?

Reading about something in a book doesn't make it the truth. Who wrote the book? Rudd has written a book which has been panned by all sides of politics because he is trying to rewrite history but you can also say that you read his book and start quoting his lies.

I'm not trying to make waves Rae, it just annoys me that people come into this forum loaded with volumes of hearsay and make wild sweeping statements that have no basis in fact. All sides do it.
Theo1943
16th Jan 2018
9:39pm
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/public-service-job-cuts-may-have-led-to-growing-delays-in-centrelink-processing-claims-for-age-and-disability-pensions-20170117-gtsy04.html
Theo1943
16th Jan 2018
9:42pm
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tax-office-faces-explosion-of-complaints-amid-thousands-of-job-cuts-20161230-gtjrob.html

Go on Old Man, make some wild sweeping statements.????
Knows-a-lot
16th Jan 2018
11:12am
Centrelink is a nightmare to deal with. They're nothing but incompetent nincompoops.
MrsBrownthethird
16th Jan 2018
11:15am
Pancake if i make a bungle like they did i would not ask for the money to be paid back as it was my fault in the first place and learn by my mistake. This is not the first time that they have paid people to much
floss
16th Jan 2018
11:23am
I think the staff do a good job perhaps the Federal Government want it to fail they are good at that.Perhaps that is about all they have achieved since they came to power.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
1:01pm
They are reported to want to hand it over to Serco to run.
tropic
16th Jan 2018
1:04pm
Spot on Floss. The Libs want to privatise anything. They are deliberately underfunding it. The Liberals are a bunch of morons.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:55pm
Create chaos and keep everyone off balance.....

Could be some truth in the idea that this bunch of clowns want to privatise it out to their mates - again.
tropic
16th Jan 2018
11:36am
One wishes it was limited to Centrelink. This government has been a disaster in running anything. I can't think of one thing this government has done that was a success. Apart form attacking the less well off and lining their own pockets.
Darts44
16th Jan 2018
11:59am
I have not be overpay, if I was , I would be very happy to pay back. You FAILED miserably to understand the main subject of my email.
Darts44
16th Jan 2018
11:45am
Make Centrelink payment more simple, so the Centrelink employees can understand it better, and me too, because I don't have an university degree.
eggles01
16th Jan 2018
11:47am
simple:you know the money is not yours so if you keep it you are "STEALING IT, STEALING IS A CRIME"pay it back straight away or you may end up with a criminal record,they will get it back anyway pay it back do not take the chance of getting a record and/or a BAD credit rating.
tropic
16th Jan 2018
11:53am
Are you putting the blame now on the recipients for this stuff up? They did not steal the money!! And nobody should get a record or bad credit rating for this Liberal Government/Centrelink disaster. It's up to them to get it back. There are a lot of people who were not aware of overpayment and have spent it by now. (good for the economy by the way). They don't just have the cash lying around to pay it back.
Darts44
16th Jan 2018
11:58am
I have not be overpay, if I was , I would be very happy to pay back. You FAILED miserably to understand the main subject of my email
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
12:09pm
It takes a lot more than that to get a criminal record or even a bad credit record.
Sconny
16th Jan 2018
11:54am
Late last year my wife required cancer related surgery. As part of the recovery process doctor's agreed to allow her (us) to be with her family overseas last Christmas. Between us we informed Centrelink 5 times by way of app; website; and finally phone..receipts obtained in all five reports and (luckily) records kept. While overseas I checked why my age pension was not paid and found a letter on the MYGov website stating that because "you failed to report" your pension and pension card have been cancelled. After much unneeded stress and because of representations by my daughter on my behalf another letter was received stating "because you have now reported your pension is reinstated"
Of all the Government departments this Centrelink/MyGov has to be the worst, designed more to harass and discourage people especially if you are anglo-saxon. They claim to offer
a superior service...thats bollox...Me I would sack every bloody one of them from top to bottom and start again...by the way Drew thanks for ignoring my request to you for help with this very problem
tropic
16th Jan 2018
11:59am
It's this useless Liberal Government that is in charge of Centrelink. And they carry the blame. People at Centrelink are all employees from the government. Vote them out at the next election unless you want more of the same.
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
2:13pm
They will still be employees of the government no matter who wins the next election.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
6:03pm
.. but maybe the next government will stop trying to micro-manage them and let them do their job with adequate resources.

Don;t hold your breath though - both 'sides' of The Tag Team have their fists firmly wrapped around the testicles of senior management in the public service, so they'll jump whichever way they are commanded... that's what contracted senior management does and The Tag Team aren't going to let go of that any time soon.

It's up to us to let The Tag Team go and install a proper government.
Darts44
16th Jan 2018
11:55am
I have not be overpay, if I was , I would be very happy to pay back. You FAILED miserably to understand the main subject of my email.
Theo1943
16th Jan 2018
10:14pm
Darts44, I have failed to understand all four of these posts.
Not a Bludger
16th Jan 2018
12:00pm
Time to summarily dismiss a few senior civil servants - as Napoleon said “to encourage the others”.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
1:13pm
The Abbott government did that and then had to contract them back at much higher salary to fix up the mess.

Unfortunately the private sector is even worse that the public sector.

Private business can't even generate enough profit to pay their workers properly or even pay taxes for all the infrastructure ordinary workers are forking out for.

You think Serco will run CentrelinK cheaper because I don't.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:57pm
Tell 'em they're dreamin'....
Not a Bludger
16th Jan 2018
9:11pm
Jeez Rae - life for you must be terrible, what with the sky about to fall in any moment - nothing to look forward to, just complain on.
Paulo
16th Jan 2018
12:09pm
It's the bane of modern life, silly comments written by mainly illiterate correspondents, who have another agenda or axe to grind. This is supported by poor reporting and abysmal editing of issues important to all Australians. The report said, "Human error and FRAUD blamed for overpayment". What part of the fraud did the Government take part in? We all know that CL is abused by so many bludgers looking for a free ride at the expense of the honest taxpayer.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:58pm
Thank you for your learned comment..... we all humbly apologise for being so inferior... (falls about laughing)
john
16th Jan 2018
12:09pm
It never fails to amaze me about centre link and welfare recipients , and the "over payment" is there such a thing, its laughable , I have some concessions for over 65 year olds , and a part pension of $82.00 a fortnight , which is helpful although small. And I am no wealthy fellow in my retirement by a long shot.
But this last payment just gone I was informed my pension had been reduced to $77 dollars a fortnight. $5 dollars less somehow now?
Do you know all I could do is laugh my head off. The pettiness, of the tiny amounts this government controlled welfare bureau actually pays pensioners let alone part pensioners, well what can you do but laugh. It won't damage me irreparably, but it is an aggravation that makes you wonder , who is this stupid government trying to fool, its a right to have a pension not a privilege.
KSS
16th Jan 2018
1:45pm
You get a 'small' pension because clearly you have enough other assets from which to draw. That is exactly how it should be.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:59pm
Yes - sell your electric wheelchair and get on with it.....
Andy Leucite
16th Jan 2018
12:57pm
About five years ago I had a phone call from Centrelink saying that they had overpaid my part Old Age Pension by several hundred dollars (over and unspecified period of time) and that I have to pay it back immediately or I would lose my pension and have to go through the whole laborious process of applying for it again (the first time was nightmare enough). When I pressed the woman to explain how the figure of what I had been overpaid had been arrived at she professed ignorance and said I would have to pay it. Luckily I had enough in the bank to write a cheque and sent it off to a legitimate Centrelink postal address (not trusting the one I was given in case it was a scam). As usual with almost any correspondence there was not acknowledgement of my letter or protest and the accompanying cheque, but my pension wasn't cancelled, even though the response time I had been given was almost impossibly short. I asked the woman what would happen if I was a little old lady who lived from pension payment to payment, had not extra money to repay with, and was always on the verge of deciding to feed the cat meet, or herself, but not both. Basically I was given the answer "tough for her."

A few years later, a financial adviser discovered that I had been significantly underpaid (to the tune of over a thousand of dollars a year) ever since I had been granted a part pension, and that I was owed many five or six thousand dollars. He instructed me what to write and who to write to about the mistake they had made and why they had made it (he identified the actual problem), and I duly did this. After some months a Centrelink consultant finally rang me and agreed that I had been seriously underpaid, and that Centrelink acknowledged its mistake. But here's the catch - I was told that I would only be reimbursed from the time I advised them of their mistake, because legislation protected Centrelink from having to do anything else (though of course that doesn't apply the other way - see my anecdote above), so instead of five or six thousand dollars I was given a few hundred. I don't blame any of the consultants we talk to, and always tell them that, but the system and guidelines they are forced to operate by are dinosaur-like and inhumane. All this was well before all the shambolic attempts at debt recovery that head the headlines last year, and caused so much distress and stress to mostly undeserving clients.

If I had done my job, or run my department the way Centrelink is run, I would have lost my job long ago for incompetence, ignorance and bullying - again I'm not blaming the poor souls at the bottom of the Centrelink organisation but those at the top and the pollies (both brands) above them.
Rae
16th Jan 2018
1:06pm
Appalling Andy. It's a dog's breakfast of a system that treats everyone differently and so is open to fraud, incompetence and bullying.
Triss
16th Jan 2018
5:11pm
But why, Andy? Why is there legislation to protect Centrelink from having to right a financial wrong? Has anyone ever asked that question? People on this sight have questioned the morals and ethics of writers who say they should be allowed to keep the overpayments but have not demonised Centrelink for stealing.
etc1
16th Jan 2018
1:28pm
I have had to make dozens of calls over a 1 month period to have centrelink stop depositing money into my account. This has happened a few times over the last year. I have only been on part pension for a year. I have wasted about 15hours making about 100 phone calls to them.I saw that the payment was incorrect. But. If a person is over paid by a only few dollars, it would be hard to pick up.
keviosays
16th Jan 2018
1:32pm
It goes to show the government with all thier resources cannot operate a company properly the waste is colossal meanwhile they line there own pockets with perks at the expense of the little guy..No I wouldn't pay anything back
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
2:05pm
.. and there is The Great Divide between government and people here (and elsewhere) .. one set of wide open rules for the governing class and despotism for the rest.

Centuries of upward movement in social conditions reversed in a generation by ham-fisted and self-serving governments of both kinds.

You hit the nail on the head about their business acumen - none at all, and without their captive audience paying tax they'd be bust years ago. Greiner et al (poor old al - always lumped with this lot) were the greatest self-serving dunder-heads with their 'private enterprise is more efficient and government should operate as a business'... what a total load of cosswallop - it worked better and cheaper before.... now it's just plain highway robbery on the part of malfunctioning governments, with their hand in your pockets endlessly to make up for their failings.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
1:45pm
Same old beat-up again... can't admit they stuffed up without trying to blame the recipient. How many Centrelink employees have generated funds to fictitious names? Been done...
VeryCaringBigBear
16th Jan 2018
2:08pm
Loved the one where the Centrelink program wouldn't balance due to rounding errors so a programmer put in a bit of code to add them all up and send his grandmother a cheque. His grandmother sure got a decent OAP.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
6:08pm
* falls about laughing*
AutumnOz
16th Jan 2018
2:16pm
"The Department of Human Services (DHS) paid around 2.4 million people an average of $1174 each more than they were entitled to receive during the year."
That is a confusing sentence as it doesn't say whether a few dollars extra was paid each fortnight for a full year or whether the overpayment was in several smaller lots of money.
If anyone on a part pension has other forms of income e.g. from shares, overseas pension etc. there is no way anyone would realise they were being overpaid because of the way Centrelink takes extra income into consideration and pays out accordingly.
Seems to be just another scare tactic from Centrelink to frighten people.
professori_au
16th Jan 2018
2:26pm
I believe Centrelink has acted outside of its authority to send debt collectors enforce repayment of its overpayments. I would like to see a copy of the instrument or document giving it (a corporation ) authority to ignore debt collections Act, both state and commonwealth that make it illegal to charge debt collections costs to the debtor unless the debtor agrees or there has been a court order. People seem to readily accept that because the government says it is so then it must be correct. Governments make mistakes and "boy " do they. It is up to the people to raise their concerns over the behaviour of our politicians and those supposedly representing the will of the people. I keep stating this, The people are the highest authority (lawful government) and Parliament is its servant. Parliament is not the servant of political parties or their factions. However, until the people make their will quite clear then these unlawful governments will continue to make laws that takes away your rights. I have been and am still involved in some cases whereby the lawyers had to admit they did not have a leg to stand on and advised their clients they were in breach of various act and the constitution. When we made public aware of the successes we received from several people "oh you can't do that". Our response, what did we just advise you. We showed you the decisions of the courts and you are now trying to tell us it can't be true. sometimes I wonder I wonder where their brains lay. It is certainly in their head.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
6:10pm
They forgot to give them black uniforms with lightning flashes on the collars...
Sundays
16th Jan 2018
2:44pm
The staff are overworked. They have to meet impossible targets, and over the last few years the Government have directed that they help less, but let the public work it out for themselves or self assess. I’ve found Centrelink staff to be helpful, and many would prefer to do more for the public. I wholeheartedly blame the Govt for any overpayments as they haven’t invested in the computer system, and certainly not on the staff. The Govt doesn’t appreciate the complexity of the various payments, and have done nothing to overhaul and streamline payments. Outsourcing to Serco will make it worse
Triss
16th Jan 2018
5:23pm
The government is spending over $50 million of taxpayer money on integrating Serco into Centrelink.
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
8:43pm
Plenty more where that came from.........
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
8:44pm
I'll bet they embed the contract so that if a future government boots Serco out, it will cost an arm and a leg.

Better not to go down that path at all and leave the public service alone.
OnlyGenuineRainey
16th Jan 2018
3:31pm
The government should use some common sense for a change and simplify the system. If it was less complicated, there would be far less scope for both error and rorting, and far less need for excessive staff numbers to police it.
Theo1943
16th Jan 2018
9:25pm
Pay all people of pension age the full pension. Then sack all Centrelink staff. Would save money.
Paul G
16th Jan 2018
4:20pm
We had put the figure provided by Centrelink onto our tax return two years ago. Centrelink came back last year to challenge their own number. We had to repay an amount. Advised by Centrelink that we could lower the income number on the tax via an adjustment to get the tax element back. Tax office said we can’t amend a return over two years old. So we repaid but government did not repay us what they owed us. A double whammy! Left hand not knowing right had!

16th Jan 2018
4:21pm
Idiots - better make sure you recover them all.
What pisses me off is those who received the extra payments are keeping quiet about it and then crying blue murder when Centerlink tries to retrieve the stolen funds
Knows-a-lot
18th Jan 2018
1:53pm
"Stolen" funds? The recipients did not steal the money: it was simply given to them by mistake. The overly-complicated Centrelink system means that these recipients might not even be aware that they are not entitled to the money.
Annick
16th Jan 2018
4:39pm
when Centrelink make a mistake and overpay us we have to pay the whole amount back either in a lump sum or by fortnightly payments. BUT if Centrelink UNDERPAY you they only repay you a limited amount not the whole sum underpaid. Not a fair system. Once I was overpaid one fortnight (Centrelink error person didn't enter the information I supplied correctly and forgot to save the entry.) I went straight into the Centrelink office with the excess to repay to them. BUT NO couldn't do that they had to send a letter to get the repayment. When I received the letter it accused me of cheating and not declaring income. I had kept a record of the previous happenings so I went straight back in again and asked to see the Senior person and laid all the facts in front of him. I asked for a withdrawal of the cheating accusations, if Centrelink didn't withdraw them, I would be suing them for libel/defamation of character. They verbally withdrew the letter but wouldn't put it in writing.
Knows-a-lot
18th Jan 2018
1:54pm
In brief: Centrelink are totally incompetent, mindlessly bureaucratic arseholes.
Yvonne
16th Jan 2018
4:50pm
My daughter reported to Centrelink that she had been overpaid family payments. Was told no it is right. Again reported overpayment and then went into a Centrelink office to report same problem. Again told no, the money paid to you is yours. After being reassured 6 times that she had not been over paid, received a letter a year later demanding repayment of that money! How can so many different people get it wrong?
Anonymous
16th Jan 2018
4:55pm
If you know you have been overpaid, keep the money unspent in your account and be prepared to pay it back on demand

Too easy . In the meantime, you can even collect interest on it. Why complain
TREBOR
16th Jan 2018
6:13pm
Nah - invest it in Serco shares - they are the government's money bin de jour....

Anyone know who the shareholders are??????????????
professori_au
16th Jan 2018
7:08pm
Another thought occurred to me and it would screw Centrelink up well and truly.
If a business sent me an account stating I had been over paid then I would legitimately be entitled to ask them to provide an itemised and detail account of the alleged debt. I suspect that they would not be able to provide one. You are dealing with a corporation and you are entitled to be given an itemised account of what is alleged you owe. In business it is up to the corporation to prove the debt, not your. You did not make the mistake and you have acted in good faith believing they know what they are doing:)!!!
No one is above the law and just because the government and its employees are incompetent is not an excuse. As an advocate I am dealing with a case where a council claims an alleged debt against some pensioners. I eventually received an itemised copy of the alleged rate arrears. As initially the council was reluctant to deal with me, preferring to deal with the pensioners as they could intimidate them. My investigation and research led me to information that showed corruption and collusion. They found my authority was legal and they needed to respond. My objective is for council to please clarify the questions asked and also provide documents as requested. The finance manager said I don't think we have to provide the information. No one has ever questioned us or requested the information before. My reply well there is always a first time and if we do not get the answers or the documentation then we will have to take action to subpoena the information. Well they did provide copies of some documents; well I say copies because they were watermarked copies. However the copies do not match up with the summary documents and in fact strangely enough they open with my amended opening balance. Now how could that happen? The O/B was from a rate notice 10 years ago and I was not involved then. There are many other inconsistencies in the whole process and we have asked whether their software and accounting process complied with the Australian Accounting Standards as required under the Act. Refusal to reply. Asked them show a signed copy of authority from the pensioners allowing council to pass on or to sell on personal, private and confidential materials to a third party in breach of the Commonwealth and state Privacy Acts. there are so many issues under question that I have no intention of backing away until council either sits down with us and works through the issues as would be expected from any reasonable person or company. If they refuse within the next month then the matter will go to ASIC where if it is found against council it can be fined up to $1.158M per offence. The main issue that the amended figures reduce and alleged debt from approx. $6,500 to approximately $600. It is an easy question we have asked explain why there is a difference. I don't claim to be infallible but council needs to demonstrate where I am wrong. It is up to council. I have noting to gain as I work as a volunteer advocate and do not charge for my services, except if there is a lot of telephone costs and travel, then the client are to contribute towards that. to date I have not charged for the hours spent on investigation and research. Anyway I digress but I want to make the point if you are happy to be exploited then don't complain. If you do not want to be exploited and speak out. I will be 85 in a few days and have back away from an issue where I believe I am correct. I am prepared to listen and if it can be proved I am wrong then I have no problem accepting the outcome .
professori_au
16th Jan 2018
8:15pm
Fiona that will not change until they have competent ministers, qualified staff and a sound policy. At the moment the few people who are competent are overworked and underpaid. The rest rely on a computer robot and or minimum low wage earners without training or skills to try and make the system work. Do not attack the shop front people. They try to do the best they can with a broken system that the government is not willing to repair. Centrelink has a duty of care to ensure due diligence. You are not expected to know or understand how they assess each case and you accept what they offer in good faith. Until people challenge this culture it will continue.
ex PS
16th Jan 2018
8:23pm
So what the government is saying is that the you beaut debt recovery system that every one said would not work, in fact does not work.
Just another failure by a tragically inept government.
Anonymous
16th Jan 2018
9:25pm
put on your glasses - they recovers $1.8B of the $2.8 B that was rorted
Theo1943
16th Jan 2018
9:46pm
Huh? Was human error, now rorted?
ex PS
17th Jan 2018
12:19pm
And how much did that cost Raphael?


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