Senator Abetz joins the queue

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz is the latest in the line of MPs to admit that Centrelink’s debt recovery system is flawed, saying it has “let down the Australian people”.

The Senator has also refused to rule out support for Labor’s proposed Senate inquiry into the ‘robo-debt’ debacle.

Speaking on behalf of his home state, Tasmania, which has the highest number of age and disability support pensioners, and female single parents in the country, Senator Abetz again voiced his concerns over the way in which the debt-recovery system has been rolled out. However, he steered away from direct criticism of the system itself and of Human Services Minister Alan Tudge.

Speaking to ABC Radio in Tasmania on Thursday, Mr Abetz said: “The policy and the principle is right, to ensure that payments are correct, but the computer program does make errors or doesn’t take into account, for example, business names has been an issue.

“You want to limit the garbage that goes in [to the data-matching program], or the incorrect information, and that is where Centrelink, I think, has let down the Australian people.”

A fellow Liberal Senator, Jonathon Duniam, has joined Mr Abetz in criticising the failure of the debt-recovery program.

The comments made by Mr Abetz and Mr Duniam oppose the Liberal party line. And although, next week, Labor may try to instigate a Senate inquiry, it already has the support of The Greens, One Nation and Nick Xenophon Team, so, it would seem, it doesn’t need Liberal backing to hold whomever is responsible for the failed system.

“Even Liberal senators know there is a problem with the robo-debt system, if the minister won’t own up and fix these issues then the Parliament will hold him to account,” said Labor MP Linda Burney.

“Alan Tudge is the minister overseeing Centrelink, if Centrelink is failing the Australian people then that responsibility lies at his feet.”

Read more at The Guardian

Whose fault is it? What are your thoughts about the robo-debt debacle?

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