Government passes new Centrelink laws that will affect 550,000 Australians

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As of July, welfare recipients will need to report their income as it appears on their payslip, rather than having to estimate a figure based on hours worked over a fortnight, after legislation passed the Senate on Thursday.

The changes to Centrelink reporting are expected to save the federal budget $2.1 billion over four years.

Gone are the days of people reporting income to Centrelink by estimating pay amounts based on how many hours worked in a fortnight and rate of pay, taking into account penalty rates.

Under the new system, welfare recipients will be able to enter details on their payslips and their employment and income data can be pre-filled online, the same as occurs with tax returns.

The new system will also be the beginning of single-touch payroll for welfare recipients, where income data from the Australian Taxation Office will be automatically uploaded to the government system so bureaucrats can double check figures.

In theory, this will prevent incorrect debts being issued as occurred with the government’s robo-debt scandal, as payments should become more accurate, preventing people being owed money or paying too much.

After one year, there will be a review of the new system and it will return to the lower house for final approval.

Centrelink will set up an online portal to help people with the change, which is expected to affect about 550,000 Australians.

What do you think of this new system?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

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51 Comments

Total Comments: 51
  1. 0
    0

    The new system should be easier for many people. I do some self employment that I invoice weekly. There is no way of knowing what day, week or month I will get paid. In fact I have an amount of $2,500 invoiced that I do not expect to ever receive. The company involved has now gone into liquidation. The new system will certainly assist if this happens again.

  2. 0
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    Is there a remote chance that this might actually HELP some people instead of SCREWING them ?

    • 0
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      At least there won’t be another Robodebt catastrophe, that had desperately low income people (who had at least made the effort to secure part-time or casual work), presented with huge debts from Centrelink and then threatened with debt-collectors at their door as enforcers.

      I daresay this might be the first bit of good legislation passed by this otherwise useless government in this department. How good is a government with its back to the wall? Better, it would appear. Now they have to lift the minimum wage and increase NewStart to stimulate our flopping economy.

  3. 0
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    I changed myself to reporting this way a year ago or more. So not a problem with me. I always thought that the date thing was stupid especially for casual workers like myself.

  4. 0
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    So if yiu report whats on your payslip that means you need one and that doesn’t happen untill you have worked so this means you will be a fortnight behind. As you can’t guess what you will earn as thats whats happening now.

    • 0
      0

      If you haven’t worked you don’t report earnings! If you only work intermittently then you would be accustomed to your income varying.

      Far better to be ‘a fortnight behind’ and accurate than guess and risk being wrong!

      I don’t see what the problem is.

    • 0
      0

      Centrelink might see it as a problem as earnings aren’t up to date

    • 0
      0

      Not quite right, KSS – you report zero earnings, but in Centrelinkspeak that is the fortnight’s earnings… go figure.

      ozrog – obviously many cases will not be up to date.. without going through the details it would appear that Centrelink is either expecting to keep things current from the time a person gets a full-timer, or will recover any over-payment out of a future tax return or maybe a voluntary repayment of overpayment … after careful calculation and full notification…..

      No More RobberDebt!

    • 0
      0

      KSS, the problem might be that you are desperate for some income, so waiting another fortnight is out of the question for people behind in their rent or with overdue utility bills.

      This is why so many people made inaccurate gestimations in the first place – they REALLY needed some income to tide them over. Without the actual payslip in their hand, they were expected to estimate their pay when it might have involved multiple complicated penalty rates straddling one shift, or having to judge/guess whether they would or wouldn’t be paid for the overtime they were put on the spot to perform.

  5. 0
    0

    Great idea. I have been travelling Australia for the past 4 years & working when I felt like it. I am about to start a job which pays a daily rate with pay day being the last day of the month. Some weeks can be 5, 6 or 7 days working. The new system will make it so much easier to report correctly.

    • 0
      0

      So that means you will receive probably zero Centrelink payment one pay out of two (fortnightly) – but full payment the other pay out of the two.

      They might find that a bit tricky. This is the kind of thing that makes any system difficult to operate – a basic system cannot cover all possibilities and thus ‘discretion’ creeps in – and ‘discretion’ is a two way sword.

    • 0
      0

      Karen, what I will be earning will wipe out any credits I have in a month so getting nil pension will not be a problem. Hopefully they cross check with the ATO to keep everyone’s payments accurate.

    • 0
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      No sure how they’ll work that one.. got to take a new divorcee down to Centrelink tomorrow – might ask if I get the chance.

      Should be simple to keep payments straight through the ATO without any need to report at all, black market cash money aside, of course.

    • 0
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      Newstart reporting is very different to OAP reporting of income, from what I understand. I know it’s all administered at Centrelink, but people are treated very differently depending on whether their status is welfare or pension.

  6. 0
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    It was stupidity from the start to expect people in casual work to report something they may or may not earn,report what you have earn’t,not something that is in future that hasn’t happened yet.

  7. 0
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    It was stupidity from the start to expect people in casual work to report something they may or may not earn,report what you have earn’t,not something that is in future that hasn’t happened yet.

  8. 0
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    I can’t see how this is going to work because a payslip represents money already worked and paid for and it may very from fortnight to fortnight if it is casual or part-time. I assume Centrelink has always been paying out based on a predetermined amount so unless they deduct any earnings from the next pay you receive you are going to be confused as to how much you will get from Centrelink each fortnight.
    Also, there might be quite a few people who cannot enter the info on line. This would then require a visit to a Centrelink office which means a long wait just to report something. It’s going to be very inconvenient for some people and confusing for others.
    The public never wins. It will always be to suit the government.

    • 0
      0

      “I can’t see how this is going to work because a payslip represents money already worked and paid for and it may very from fortnight to fortnight if it is casual or part-time.”

      That iss exactly why it would work. You no longer have to guess your income but report what you actually earned. Less room for error and potential over or under payments if you take the guesswork out of the equation.

    • 0
      0

      In the past people have had to guess how much they will earn for the year ahead and they get paid based on that. At the end of the year if they hard earned more they have to pay back their over payment from Centrelink. With this new system they report their pay for the fortnight, so each fortnight they are telling Centrelink their actual pay and get a payment from them based on their actual pay, there will be no over/underpayments are year end.

      Also to advise Centrelink they can call them, don’t need to go into the office.

  9. 0
    0

    I can’t see how this is going to work because a payslip represents money already worked and paid for and it may very from fortnight to fortnight if it is casual or part-time. I assume Centrelink has always been paying out based on a predetermined amount so unless they deduct any earnings from the next pay you receive you are going to be confused as to how much you will get from Centrelink each fortnight.
    Also, there might be quite a few people who cannot enter the info on line. This would then require a visit to a Centrelink office which means a long wait just to report something. It’s going to be very inconvenient for some people and confusing for others.
    The public never wins. It will always be to suit the government.

  10. 0
    0

    Give the people over 65 a pension and let the ATO work it out by us filling yearly tax returns with group certificates supplied. Let C/L look after job seekers under 60 years of age for a start; we oldies only work to keep up with the cost of living and money we earn does not go into property, it is spent round the neighborhood (in my case anyway).

    • 0
      0

      Agree it’s the same here.
      It sounds simple but will confuse the hell out of a lot of people. If the waiting time on phones was long till now it will surely be longer now.

    • 0
      0

      We don’t get group certificates anymore. Your tax return comes pre-filed with information directly from the tax office.

    • 0
      0

      KSS – they are not group certificates. They are Payment Summaries. And by law, if you have earned money from any employer, they have to give you one.

    • 0
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      Older & Wiser, you are obviuosly no longer in the workforce. for the financial year ended 30 June 2019, the employer no longer has to provide group certificates/payment summaries for the preceding year. The information that would have been on it is now populated on the your on-line tax return (whether you do it yourself or use a tax agent) by the ATO. This is the simgle touch payrole system introduced back in 2018.

      You do still get the ‘pay slip’ every week/fortnight/month depending on how you are paid. You just don’t get the annual summary any more.

      See here for information:
      https://atotaxrates.info/other-tax-topics/group-certificate/

    • 0
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      older&wiser – say thank you to KSS for teaching you something today.

    • 0
      0

      Still not very helpful for older people who aren’t computer savvy.

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