27th Apr 2015
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750,000 welfare recipients overpaid

Between July and December 2014, an estimated one in 10 recipients of welfare from the Department of Human Services were overpaid. Most overpayments stem from recipients of benefits failing to complete a tax return, underestimating or failing to advise a change in circumstances.

Family Tax Benefit, Newstart Allowance and the single parenting payment accounted for most of the overpayments, with 350,000 families receiving too much Family Tax Benefit.

The figures came to light when Human Services managers faced a Senate estimates hearing in February, where answers were given to questions taken on notice.  The department has detailed strategies to reduce overpayments in future, including monitoring Twitter and Facebook so it can be alerted when a student has left study, someone finds a job, or if a couple claiming to be separated announce they are together.

Debt collection agencies have benefited from chasing those who have been overpaid by the department but can’t or won’t pay back the money. Last year, $124.8 million was recovered by private debt collection agencies, with two such agencies, Dun and Bradstreet and Mercantile Credit, receiving $13 million in fees, according to National Welfare Rights Network. "The debt recovery bonanza follows a previous Audit Office investigation which found private debt collection agencies recovered 10 per cent of Centrelink debts, but were the subject of more than a quarter of all complaints about debt recovery practices," it said.

According to the Department of Human Services about 90 per cent of all debts are recovered. A planned replacement of the Centrelink payment system will, according to, Minister for Human Services, Marise Payne, reduce the amount of overpayments in the first place. "The new system will significantly improve the department's ability to share information in real time with other agencies, which will help to more quickly identify customers at risk of accumulating large debts and potentially fraudulent behaviour. Improved data sharing will also reduce the compliance burden on customers," she said.

Read more at TheAge.com.au

Opinion: Stupidity or greed?

If the numbers are correct, it is staggering how many people have been overpaid by Human Services, perhaps as a result of thinking they could pull a fast one.

While a small percentage may have simply overlooked filling in a tax return, or had been meaning to get around to telling Centrelink about their new partner or additional income, let’s not forget this actually amounts to fraud. Times are tough for a lot of people; those working hard to bring in a wage, trying to manage an Age Pension alone, or those who can’t work because they have to look after a parent, or sick partner. However, there is no excuse for lying to simply get a few extra dollars.

And it’s not as if those trying to pull off the fraud are criminal masterminds. With Centrelink monitoring Facebook and Twitter, it’s only a matter of time before it twigs that the couple who claim to be separated only to announce their baby joy on social media perhaps aren’t being honest. In today’s instant, online world, nothing is private or secret for long, even from the government.

Of course everyone makes mistakes and people should be given the benefit of the doubt when it’s found that their earnings have been underestimated, or that their details haven’t properly been registered. But for those who deliberately give fraudulent information to receive more benefits, the penalties should be harsh.

Do you agree? Do you think that accepting an overpayment amounts to benefit fraud if not declared or paid back? Or should the onus be on the Department of Human Services to get it right in the first place?





    COMMENTS

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    annie
    27th Apr 2015
    10:33am
    Well it is Centrelinks own fault this happens....I have reported fraud on a person several times, like 50times now, have proof of her fraud for claiming single parent pension and living with a guy now for over 12months who earns very good money also ripping off Legal Aid but guess what?? they do nothing, let her get away with it...then they advertise this rubbish....if they get reports of fraud...ACT ON IT
    Pablo
    27th Apr 2015
    10:50am
    Yes, public reports like yours should be regularly reviewed by auditing Centrelink's follow-up of them. Both sides are to blame in my opinion - Centrelink for not following up and recovering overpayments whether deliberate or not, and Centrelink clients who think it is fair game to rip off "the Government" when in fact it is the Australian taxpayer they are ripping off. When Joe Hockey told us that the age of entitlement is over, I welcomed it but after so many months nothing much seems to have changed with people still ripping off the taxpayers in droves.
    margie
    28th Apr 2015
    10:42am
    Annie, you are 100% correct, I also reported a couple living together with the male doing cash in hand work who had just had three big holidays including a cruise (all documented on facebook) and not a thing was done. Both still living it up at the taxpayers expense. Centrelink talk big but do nothing and even the people living in public housing seem to be able to get away with trashing homes, not paying their rent yet still retain these homes or get moved along to another one, to start the cycle again.
    Adrianus
    11th Feb 2016
    9:24am
    annie, it may be a case of corruption within Centerlink. Soon after we kicked labor out this government found corruption in the Immigration Department which allowed large numbers of illegals permanent residency. Could the payments have been made with Centrelink money??? Labor's mismanagement has forced us all to now pay the price.
    Grumpy
    27th Apr 2015
    10:43am
    Debbie why is it that if a welfare recipient does not update information inadvertently and receives more than they should you are quick to call a spade a spade, or rather a fraud a fraud, (although technically for it to be a fraud you must establish "mens rea" (guilty intent)), whereas when the PM deliberately arranges an early morning half hour appointment in Melbourne for legitimate government purposes on a day following a several hours long Liberal Party fundraiser the night before it is accepted as smart practice rather than the fraud it really is i.e. getting the taxpayer to pay for his airfare and accommodation rather than burdening his party's coffers.
    KSS
    27th Apr 2015
    12:29pm
    Grumpy, how do you "inadvertently' not update information to Centrelink? Given the frequent reporting you have to do either in person or on-line at which you are asked about changes in circumstances (including income, living arrangements etc etc etc) how is failing to tell the truth 'inadvertent"?
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    12:34pm
    tch, tch KSS, surely you know it must ALWAYS be someone elses fault, an accident, act of nature, miracle, mistake etc etc ;)
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    12:35pm
    ....oooops. read 'innocent' mistake :D
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    11:22am
    Oh, D'oh !! Second and possibly third generation of Experts at this practice are thriving, I'm sure :( SURELY some government agency could solve this problem PLUS gather the hundreds of millions in unpaid fines etc in all States. Or are our laws inadequate or our civil servants charged with this job simply incompetent ??
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    11:58am
    p.s. I mean the unpaid fines such as traffic offences, non payment of other monies due to various government agencies etc. Must be millions, if not billions, owing :(
    biddi
    27th Apr 2015
    11:26am
    Now the cheats have been alerted Centrelink is monitoring Facebook and Twitter accounts ....
    hahaha
    Daniel
    27th Apr 2015
    12:25pm
    When it takes ten months (yes - 10) for Centrelink to action reported income (and I attended the office in person to report it!) and then demand repayment just weeks before Christmas -- you have to wonder whether these 'overpayments' are just Centrelink/DHS moving slower than a snail.
    KSS
    27th Apr 2015
    12:35pm
    No bouquets to Centrelink but for those 10 months you continued to accept the higher amount knowing it was wrong? You could have quarantined the overpayment so it was ready to repay when the time came.
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    12:37pm
    KSS.....see mine, above ;) You are such an innocent KSS ;)
    Radish
    27th Apr 2015
    2:43pm
    After Cyclone Tracy we received two insurance cheques for our loss. There was no way we would have kept the second cheque and we sent it back. If I was to receive an overpayment from any source I would not spend it as I would know in my heart it was wrong. Consciences are a bother ;).
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    2:51pm
    Oh, I know Radish, I know ;) I'm a victim of my upbringing also :( But, hey !! I sleep easy at night ;) Worth it, isn't it :)
    Radish
    28th Apr 2015
    9:28am
    Yes, I totally agree heyybob! :)
    quietguy
    27th Apr 2015
    12:41pm
    My beef is that they reclaim overpayments when it is their fault, not the customers. That is not fair or reasonable.

    It seems they want it both ways - if the customer is at fault they are made to pay, but if Centrelink is at fault they are not prepared to pay. Again not fair or just
    shirboy
    27th Apr 2015
    1:09pm
    During a stressful time in early March when I had to admit my husband to a nursing home I did not inform Centrelink quick enough & had to pay back just over $3oo.
    Adrianus
    27th Apr 2015
    4:27pm
    Good point shirboy, some people simply fail to keep up with everything when personal circumstances become too much to handle.
    thehobbit
    27th Apr 2015
    1:22pm
    It is incredibly difficult to contact Centrelink. I have always bent over backwards to ensure that I report any changes, but am sick of not being able to even get as far as a queue on the phone, and getting no response to their own email system. I've had to go through the 'complaints' number just to talk to someone. Not good enough.
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    1:47pm
    Just a suggestion (one given to me many years ago). May save your back ;) If it happens a couple (or a dozen) more times ask your 'complaints' server for a transaction reference number as you are creating a Paper Trail for a formal written complain about the poor/inadequate/slow etc service that is giving you grief. Public servants are scared s......s of Paper Trails ;O Has worked for me with a couple of organisations that haven't provided a good enough service. p.s. remember to always warm up before bending backwards.
    Peterrj
    28th Apr 2015
    8:27am
    The Hobbit raises the reality that it is impossible some times to make contact with Centrelink. Ring them by phone and the line goes dead after an hour or so, or be directed to the wrong section and start the process once more. And to top it off .... their rules and regulations are all but impossible to understand. With due respect to YLC, they often give welfare advice only to then receive an abundance of comments of 'no you are wrong' or 'I don't understand the advice given'. The rules for those receiving the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card changed on the 1/1/15 and I bet many receiving the CSHC don't understand those changes and have failed to inform Centrelink that they are technically no longer entitled to receive those benefits!!!! We have just created another criminal class ..... I could be in that category .... My wife already receives the CSHC and I turned 65 this year. I have not yet done my Tax Return for last year ..... I don't know what my income was for last year and that may disqualify my wife from holding the CSHC!!! I think I am under the limit, I'm pretty sure that I am under the limit BUT only when I do my tax return and receive my assessment from the ATO will I know if I am a criminal or not!!! Actually would be my wife who would be the criminal. What stupid criminal code is this????? There must be many in this same situation and many who don't know the full implications of those rule changes. I recently went to a Centrelink Retirement seminar and I was give wrong advice from an alleged Centelink expert!!! Their web sit is absolutely confusing and you can't get good advice from them. And we are to be blamed for overpayments???? Yeah, right!!!
    bookwyrm
    1st May 2015
    5:48am
    I can never get through on the phone and when I went into the office they said I had to do it by phone. So I got addressed envelopes from them to do it all by mail now. I only got two envelopes so now I have run out. But anyway this system works for me.
    Anonymous
    2nd May 2015
    9:57am
    Agree! We have had many instances of being given wrong advice. A wrong assessment caused denial of benefits we were entitled to, and though we successfully reapplied, they would only pay from the date of reapplication - not from the date of original application that was wrongly denied.
    I try to update information online and get messages that ''this service isn't working at present'', or it just plain bombs out. I've waited on hold on the phone for over an hour only to have the call cut off the minute someone answers and I start to explain the reason for my call. And some of the staff have been so unbelievably rude, arrogant and contemptuous that I'm convinced their wrong assessments are often quite deliberate.

    On the other hand, I have encountered staff who were deeply caring and diligent. But there doesn't seem to be enough accountability for poor performance by staff or enough management control to ensure staff have the right attitude.
    Ken
    27th Apr 2015
    1:51pm
    Surely it is the responsibility of Centrelink to get it right in the first place. Having said that, mistakes will be made and when discovered, the mistakes have to be rectified by whichever side is at fault. There should be no need for anybody to act in a heavy handed fashion. We should all be happy that we have such a wonderful institution as Centrelink but we should also be happy in the knowledge that it has to be paid for. My biggest problem is with these people who don't seem to like paying tax but if their home gets broken into, the first thing they do is ring the police. If their home catches fire , they ring the fire service. All of these things are paid for out of the taxes we pay and believe me ... if anything ever happens to destroy their way of earning an income, they would be down there knocking on the door of Centrelink seeking help. Let's stop all this hatred that has built up over the last 20 to 30 years and get back to showing some compassion.
    Bonny
    28th Apr 2015
    2:58pm
    I agree. If people do the right thing and play by the rules then they have nothing to fear from Centrelink. I consider Australians fortunate to have such a good welfare system but we all need to respect it.
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    2:03pm
    I think Centrelink is fantastic and here is why. I went into Centrelink yesterday to sign my three dogs up for benefits. The lady said "dogs are not eligible to draw benefits." So I explained to her that my dogs are unemployed, bone lazy and don't know who their Dads are.They expect me to feed them, provide them with accommodation and medical care. So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify........My dogs get their first cheques next Friday ! Bugger me, this is a GREAT country :)
    Adrianus
    27th Apr 2015
    4:20pm
    heyyybob, you could be entitled to a benefit as well for your patience and understanding. In fact there are about 54 different possible benefits available.
    quietguy
    29th Apr 2015
    12:10pm
    Sorry to disappoint you Bob, but as benefits are now paid directly into a bank account your dogs will have to open their own account - but they will need that 100 points to do so.
    Adrianus
    27th Apr 2015
    2:23pm
    About 4 years ago CentreLink sent me a cheque for $1,000 out of the blue. It was at the time The ALP were sending cheques to everyone even dead people. I phoned CentreLink to ask how I could return the cheque because I didn't need it and I was sure they had made a mistake. They insisted that I keep it and I insisted that as a Loyal citizen it could be put to better use because it wouldn't matter how many cheques the Gillard government sent me I wouldn't vote for them.
    I phoned every week for 6 weeks before I eventually spoke with a person who had an average IQ. He told me that CentreLink were not accustomed to receiving money only giving it out. He phoned back 2 days later with explicit instructions. I had to bank the cheque and then deposit the exact amount into an account using a special code. It made me think that perhaps it was a first for them?
    I only say this because I believe it is possible for someone who has been overpaid to want to avoid the stress of trying to return the overpayment.
    heyyybob
    27th Apr 2015
    2:53pm
    Bwahahahaaaaa Frank ! You wag, you ;)
    Rose
    28th Apr 2015
    11:12am
    When recipients of stimulus payments wanted to return their payments they were encouraged to donate it to charity as the purpose of the stimulus payment was to encourage spending to generate economic growth during the GFC. Returning it to Government coffers was counterproductive in this instance.
    Adrianus
    28th Apr 2015
    1:48pm
    So it was a stimulus payment and I should have got Gerry to get me a new TV? I thought it had something to do with buying votes because the government of the day wanted to make sure the money went to Labor voters.
    quietguy
    29th Apr 2015
    12:12pm
    You are a damn liar Frank - there is no way you could have found a Centrelink employee with an average IQ
    Adrianus
    29th Apr 2015
    4:24pm
    Well quietguy that remains a matter of judgement. I call it as I see it. I must point out that only 1 person from my 6 contacts bothered to call me back, even though they all made the same promise.
    Can anyone get a job there? It would be exciting working there with Morrison lining up all the ducks. I may apply seeing that you don't need to pass an IQ test.
    wally
    30th Apr 2015
    10:40am
    I found it interesting that one of the 6 Pm commercial TV stations recently ran a piece about how Centrelink employees are getting bashed up by Centrelink clients. Unfortunately they only showed cctv footage of the incidents and the reporter's opinion deploring the violence. It would be interesting if they gave information as to why these attacks were taking place. Would frustration with red tape be involved?
    Radish
    27th Apr 2015
    2:40pm
    Last week on the front page of a WA paper we had a photo of the wife of a millionaire who claimed Centrelink benefits over $30K.
    She has paid it back. Next week she finds out her fate. I hope she goes to jail!!
    KSS
    27th Apr 2015
    2:44pm
    As she probably should - for fraud!
    Radish
    28th Apr 2015
    9:27am
    Here is a link if anyone wants to read about this fraudster.

    https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/27291747/rich-wife-faces-jail-for-dole-rorts/
    wally
    30th Apr 2015
    10:42am
    And goes to Hell when she dies, too!
    Grateful
    27th Apr 2015
    2:58pm
    I reckon that anybody who genuinely doesn't NEED a government HANDOUT is as guilty as the infamous "dole cheat". Greed, pure and simple. Pensions are a last resort aid to the genuine NEEDY, not an entitlement.
    Imagine how much extra genuine pensioners would be able to receive if those "welfare bludgers" owned up and stopped receiving those unnecessary payments???
    Chris B T
    27th Apr 2015
    4:34pm
    Centrelink has a different attitude to under payment, and withholding information on welfare claims or entilements.
    The claimants have to know which form to fillout, there is no retrospectivity.
    Whats good for the goose isn't good for the gander, the dissenter is generally treated with scorn no matter how right you are.
    dougie
    27th Apr 2015
    4:42pm
    As in all cases if monies are paid outside that which one is legally entitled the onus is on the payee to advise the payor of the mispayment. If the payee has any sense they will put the overpayment aside until the matter is resolved and then refund it in full. Any thing else is dishonesty and the payee can be called upon to account for the error. Accordingly if an underpayment is made then it is the duty of the payor to make good the short payment. Anything less is a dereliction of ones statutory responsibility.
    It is easy to say it is their mistake let them wear it but there are ethical and moral issues involved and ones conscience must always be clear so that one can live an untroubled life.
    Dot
    27th Apr 2015
    8:43pm
    Had to laugh, my husband been on a pension for the past 12 years due to his age, I on the other hand refused to go on start allowance paving the streets applying for a job, so when I finally became of age to receive the pension which is four years ago, guess what we were called in for a review, well it gave me quite a shock. I've excepted that been a law abiding citizen who has never rorted the system, have a criminal record of any kind are easy targets for the government plus the majority of centrelink employees are bleeding hearts.
    Like the see how long the list of those from foreign countries.
    Fiona
    27th Apr 2015
    9:12pm
    When my husband dies I informed Centrelink about all monies that I had and was told that I would receive a widow's allowance.
    I got it for a couple of months and then had a letter asking for it back saying I wasn't entitled to it so had to wait till the next year when I was old enough for the aged pension.
    Gary Looney
    28th Apr 2015
    10:25am
    Welfare IT system costing millions: Abbott March 09, 2015

    JUNKING Centrelink's antiquated computer system could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

    CENTRELINK'S 1980s era IT system is set to be scrapped at a cost of $1 billion because of concerns it won't cope with a planned overhaul of the welfare system.
    Asked if the government could afford to replace it at a time of budget restraint, the prime minister asked: "Can we afford not to have an efficient Centrelink system?"

    "The antiquated system ... is costing us tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs because data has to be re-entered manually time and time again," he told reporters in Perth.

    "We need to have a proper computer system which is capable of ensuring that people get paid in a timely way ... and that all of the administration is as efficient as it possibly can be."

    Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said when the system was introduced 30 years ago about two-and-a-half million people received payments.

    Now there are about 10 million welfare recipients, with $400 million spent on 50 million transactions every day.

    "This is a system that still has manual processing attached to it, and it's been left to basically wither for many years," he told Sky News.

    Labor backed the push to replace the Centrelink computer system.

    "The case ... has been pretty strongly made that this system is groaning under the weight of what's being demanded of it," shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh told Sky News.

    http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/serious-attention-for-it-system-morrison/story-e6frfku9-1227254679789
    heyyybob
    28th Apr 2015
    11:00am
    Good news indeed.
    Gary Looney
    28th Apr 2015
    10:28am
    Woman wins test case over Centrelink payments 8 May 2013

    Thousands of prosecutions against welfare recipients who failed to report changes in circumstances have been thrown into doubt by a High Court ruling.

    The High Court has upheld a 2011 law which requires a person on benefits to tell Centrelink within 14 days of changes to income that may affect their payments.

    The law was brought in after a High Court challenge revealed under the existing law, omitting to inform Centrelink of changes in circumstances was not a criminal offence.

    The law was made retrospective to cover up to 15,000 prosecutions since 2000.

    But today the High Court found the retrospective aspect of the law was not valid.

    The test cast in the High Court involves Victorian single mother Kelli Keating, who received overpayments of $6,942 in 2009.

    The Federal Government had tried to prosecute Ms Keating under the 2011 law.

    But the High Court has now ruled that prosecutors cannot use the legislation retrospectively.

    That case will now return to court in Victoria.
    Audio: High Court says welfare fraud law is a 'statutory fiction' (The World Today)

    The director of civil justice at Legal Aid Victoria, Kristen Hilton, is on Ms Keating's legal team.

    She says about thousands of other prosecutions against welfare recipients could be affected.

    "The implication of this High Court decision today is that the DPP cannot rely on backdated legislation to create an obligation on people to tell Centrelink of something that didn't exist at the time," she told The World Today.

    "The court has referred to that as a statutory fiction.

    "So what this means is that 15,000 prosecutions that were progressed during that period when that legislation was said to apply, are now in doubt."

    Ms Hilton says in many cases, those facing prosecution did not set out to defraud Centrelink.

    "They haven't tried to rort Centrelink payments," she said.

    "These are people in most circumstances who have received an overpayment and in most cases have paid that money back but are being prosecuted because they haven't understood an obligation and they've failed to communicated to Centrelink that they've had a change in their circumstances."

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-08/high-court-to-consider-welfare-fraud-laws/4676454
    Gary Looney
    28th Apr 2015
    10:49am
    If you receive an “Account payable” from Centrelink, or a phone call asking you to come to the local Centrelink office to “discuss” alleged over-payments:

    Everyone should Get your own advice and make a personal decision what they believe is in their own best interest given their circumstances, this is just for consideration at your discretion!

    If you receive an “Account payable” from Centrelink, or a phone call asking you to come to the local Centrelink office to “discuss” alleged over-payments:

    Consider not lodging an appeal to an Authorized Review Officer as they are not independent, Centrelink works on the basis that most people will just pay or follow their guidance and instruction to recover the most money possible.

    Don't assume Centrelink has a right or the legal resources to recover money they claim you owe!

    --------------------

    Ronald's space https://yadnarie48.wordpress.com
    Information available from this link http://wp.me/p1n8TZ-m5


    1. – DO NOT lodge an appeal to an Authorized Review Officer. (ARO) They are NOT “independent” as they claim:- They are Centrelink employees who, like the police, can use anything that you say against you in a court or tribunal hearing, e.g. during any SSAT appeals that you may lodge!)

    (a) If you do not appeal, then Centrelink has to PROVE that you were in the wrong in a (local) court and that is very expensive for Centrelink. So much so, that it actually may be cheaper for Centrelink to comply with the Waiver of Debt law in paragraph 1,237a of the Social Security Act and waive the debt because it was their mistake!

    (b) NOTE: if you appeal, it is a good as saying you were in the wrong and then you have to prove that you were not in the wrong! Dial 13 32 76 and listen for the “This call will be recorded for your security” statement. That call will not be made available to you if Centrelink is in the wrong and you will then get stuck with a bill that should have been waived by Centrelink!


    2. – POLITELY inform Centrelink that you intend to seek LEGAL advice from a lawyer or welfare rights advocate before discussing the issue with Centrelink. This is your legal right and if Centrelink try to continue asking questions, DO NOT ANSWER ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS – JUST SAY “I HAVE NO COMMENT AT THIS TIME” then hang up the phone before you say something that can be used against you in an appeals tribunal hearing.

    Believe it or not, any ‘threat’ to take you to court is actually very good news for you. Why?

    Because it is so expensive to do that that it is often a non-option for Centrelink, i.e. the threat is often just a bluff, and in court Centrelink has to prove that you were at fault – you can simply insist that the court listen to the 13 32 76 recording of the phone call in dispute.

    If Centrelink do not have the phone call recording of your alleged “mistake” that caused the over-payments, then they have no case.

    If Centrelink does have the recording and it is bad news for you because you made a mistake, you can then point out to the court that it is “poisoned fruit” and is inadmissible as evidence because it violates the Coco v R [1994] HCA 15 BINDING legal precedent. (Coco v the Crown – High Court case 15 in 1994)

    XXXXXXXXXXXXX

    PLEASE SEEK YOUR OWN ADVICE - THIS IS NOT ADVICE

    This is information is only for consideration.
    heyyybob
    28th Apr 2015
    11:22am
    ....while you are at it, check your conscience. If all is well, enjoy a good nights sleep. Good luck with that ;)
    Gary Looney
    28th Apr 2015
    12:44pm
    You have the right to defend yourself, ignore the Government puppets and capitalists who would have you believe only politicians and the Wealth have rights.

    Remember the Australian Federal Parliament "Print Media Inquiry"

    KERRY PACKER:

    I am not evading tax in any way, shape or form.

    Of course, I am minimising my tax. Anybody in this country who does not minimise his tax wants his head read.

    # I can tell you as a government that you are not spending it so well that we should be donating extra.
    rtrish
    28th Apr 2015
    1:04pm
    I think Centrelink could do more to get it right, and clearly people shouldn't be fraudulent but - are these figures correct? One in ten sounds a huge percentage.
    Adrianus
    28th Apr 2015
    1:54pm
    Yes rtrish, makes you wonder what Labor did for 6 years.
    MarciaO
    29th Apr 2015
    2:03pm
    I was on a part-pension as I worked for 12 hours per week. When I received a slight pay-rise in the rate I was paid, I used the computer to advise of the change. (BIG MISTAKE) It was well over 12 months later, that Centrelink discovered that I had been overpaid and I received an account to repay %2,000. I was told that I had done everything "right" - they could see that from the screen, but it hadn't showed up on their computers!! I was told by a staff member, that it had happened to quite a few pensioners who were working part-time andf it was only discovered when they were updating their records. I felt like a fraudster and am now re-paying the amount due. I will NEVER put any rate changes etc. through on a computer, and " hope for the best" - I go into the Office, advise any changes etc. and ask for a receipt no/acknowledgment/date stamp - whatever- before I leave. It's the only way I can feel confident that I have "advised" Centrelink.
    MacI
    29th Apr 2015
    4:05pm
    Lots of commentary on this forum about Centrelink incompetence. Here is mine to add to the collection.
    A few months ago I went to Centrelink with the requisite forms to act as nominee for both of my elderly parents who are 88 and 90. Mum has dementia and dad has Power of Attorney so he signed her form. The Centrelink officer processed dad's form first so I was now nominated to act on dad's behalf. Next she started to process mum's form but hit a snag because dad had signed mum's form. She informed me that since dad had made me his nominee for Centrelink matters he could no longer sign on mum's behalf even although he had POA! But given that I was mum's nominee I couldn't sign her form either. I pointed out how illogical this was. She then sought a second opinion from another Centrelink officer who confirmed this was the case. I then inquired as to how this might be resolved. Her solution was that I get a letter from my dad revoking me as his Centrelink nominee. I even pointed out to her that if I had handed her mum's form first there would have been no problem but she was adamant. Anyhow, I left the Centrelink office shaking my head thinking there is no way this can be correct. Solution - went to the Centrelink Office in an adjacent suburb and had mum's form processed no questions asked!
    CindyLou
    29th Apr 2015
    6:23pm
    Several months ago I was a support person for my daughter as she dealt with centrelink (was on newstart for 2 months only).
    My observations were that this organization is a dinasour, staff inconsistent, communication difficult via web or phone, putative and just plain awful.

    No wonder there are errors as something is dreadfully wrong, understaffing, who knows ? just plain bad...
    Anonymous
    2nd May 2015
    9:50am
    Agree completely, Cindy. We had staff treating us with contempt and rudeness and making appalling errors. Staff gave our daughter entirely incorrect information.

    We eventually found an office in a nearby country town where we made a reliable contact who is genuinely helpful, but we were denied benefits we were entitled to for many months because of Centrelink errors, and though they are quick to demand repayment if you estimate wrongly, you don't get to claim back for their mistakes.

    One of the issues I noted was that some of the staff were egotistical and arrogant, and contemptuous of clients. They saw it as their right to make decisions based on personal prejudices rather than adhering to guidelines. And there appears to be minimal accountability for errors by employees, or even for inappropriate conduct. There doesn't seem to be any recognition of the enormous hurt they can cause by improper handling of a matter.
    disillusioned
    30th Apr 2015
    12:10pm
    You might be very interested to know about the huge cuts to Centrelink staff - like a lot of other public services and departments. Other cuts to the ATO so how can we expect these organisations to undertake investigations of both little people as well and huge corporations?
    bookwyrm
    1st May 2015
    5:40am
    Actually it‘s a misleading stat. Mostly it is to do with Centrelink overpaying family benefits due to the difficulting of estimating actual taxable income in a financial year. It‘s not deliberate fraud and Centrelink make sure they get their money back. This happened to a friend of mine who had a partner who was working fulltime and then she separated from him and she has main custody of their toddler and has since been doing a bit of casual teaching, but also get part pension, and no doubt child support. So you can imagine the impossible task of estimating an exact income.
    Adrianus
    1st May 2015
    8:29am
    Yes it is difficult estimating an exact income, especially when tradies won't give out tax invoices.
    bookwyrm
    1st May 2015
    8:00pm
    Don‘t know any tradies, can‘t afford them. What about farmers with their ‘creative accounting‘ so they got nil income and their kids get austudy. And those 55 millionaires who paid no tax. And BHP who paid $15,000. And Joe Hockey who claims over $200 daily living away allowance while living rent free at his wife‘s posh home. etc etc
    Adrianus
    2nd May 2015
    6:48am
    BHP has always been Australia's biggest taxpayer. If they paid only $15k tax in a year, they've had a very bad year which means we are in big trouble. Time for all of us to contribute.
    GG
    3rd May 2015
    12:26am
    I'm reminded of an old quote - "the more laws there are, the easier it is to become a criminal"
    After a long history with Centrelink, last year I swapped to the age pension, thank god!
    No more confusion over reporting or filing tax returns.

    As for Wally, we're all "going to hell in a handbasket" with this federal government!
    The first cowardly act on their agenda? Bash pensioners, the arseholes!


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