Centrelink automated system flaws revealed

The Government has pushed ahead with a system that is fundamentally flawed.

Couple worried about Centrelink debt recovery process

In looking to reclaim $4.6 billion of welfare debt over four years, the Government has pushed ahead with a system that many welfare recipients are claiming is fundamentally flawed.

Since the introduction of the automated system in July last year, almost 170,000 letters have been sent to Centrelink customers, past and present, asking them to explain why their income declared to Centrelink differs from that provided by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

The discrepancy, however, is often due to a flawed algorithm used by Centrelink’s new system, which is failing in two ways. The first is that annual income provided by the ATO is divided by 26, representing Centrelink’s fortnightly reporting period. This has resulted in the system flagging that people have earned too much income to justify benefits paid, even though they may not have received any income during the periods when they were paid these benefits.

The second is when a discrepancy occurs between the ATO and the Centrelink systems in the spelling of an employer’s name, the Centrelink system then deems that the person held two jobs and did not declare their full income.

In some cases the discrepancies can date back six years, yet customers are given only 14 or 21 days to provide the necessary information. This can be difficult due to them not having access to the necessary paperwork, the inability to access Centrelink’s online services, speak to someone over the phone or visit an office in person.

This is where a debt recovery notice being raised for those who do not respond within the stipulated timeframe compounds the issue. Once a debt recovery notice has been issued, Centrelink’s system can’t be amended, even if the customer can disprove the debt.

In some cases, those issued with a debt recovery notice are being advised to start repaying the debt until an internal review can be carried out. And to add insult to injury, are being charged a 10 per cent debt recovery fee for the privilege.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie claims to have been contacted by more than 100 terrified people who had received letters or debt recovery notices, four of whom said they were considering suicide.

Labor has called for the automated system to be halted until such time as the glitch can be rectified. Speaking to Fairfax Media, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said, "This farce has to end. This stuff-up has delivered a summer from hell for thousands of people who have done absolutely nothing wrong.

"They are hounding ordinary Australians for debts they do not owe. It's a toxic mix of incompetence and cruelty. I'm saying to the Prime Minister, just admit you've stuffed this up and suspend the program now."

Yet Social Services Minister Christian Porter claims the system is working well, stating only 276 complaints had been received despite 169,000 letters being sent.

“In 80 per cent of instances the debt is repayable to the Commonwealth, in the final 20 per cent of instances the matter is resolved, generally speaking, by people simply providing information online,” Mr Porter said.

However, an internal Centrelink check is said to have revealed that only 20 per cent are real debts.

Read more at:
Theage.com.au
News.com.au

Opinion: Attack on the vulnerable

No one can deny that cracking down on genuine welfare fraud is clearly necessary, but wrongly involving thousands of other innocent and vulnerable people in the process is unforgivable.

In an attempt to cut corners and being seen to be taking positive action, the Government has put its faith in a system that is flawed and, quite frankly, not fit for purpose. A simple compliance check of even a small percentage of the letters sent would have quickly indicated that there was a rogue algorithm at work.

Even the former head of the Goverment's Digital Transformation Agency, Paul Shetler, said on Radio National this morning that the debacle is as much of a political and management failure as it is an IT problem. Mr Shetler was appointed by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 to reform the Government's technical operations, but quit after 18 months. 

And in what is becoming an all-too-common occurrence, the issue is being glossed over by those responsible. Social Services Minister Christian Porter is quoting quite different figures than Centrelink officers on the ‘front line’ for those affected. Department of Human Service general manager Hank Jongen is incredulous at the outcry, saying, “I really am surprised that people are seriously suggesting that when we are obliged under the law to recover outstanding debt when it is identified, that we are being asked to stop doing this. I think you need to keep all of this in context.” Finally, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, when asked about the debt recovery fee, telling Triple J, that, "A 10 per cent recovery fee is new to me, and I don't believe that does occur."

Let’s not forget that a significant percentage of the people who will have received these letters may be disabled, have mental health issues, may have difficulties understanding complex language or quite simply, may be too scared to act for fear of being forced to pay back money they don't have.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is already looking into the issue at the request of Andrew Wilkie and it is becoming increasingly likely that a Senate Inquiry will be called on the issue. Yet we know how long this can take and, of course, the adoption of any recommendations is at the behest of the Government.

So, until such time as the issue can be resolved, surely Prime Minister needs to take time out of his holiday to deal with the problem as a matter of urgency. A simple moratorium on all debt recovery requests is all he needs to announce.

Have you received a letter from Centrelink asking you to provide more information? Do you think that if genuine debts are being recovered then the Government is right to push ahead? Or should the system be halted until the glitch can be fixed?

If you’re concerned about your circumstances and are seeking support and information about suicide prevention, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

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    COMMENTS

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    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    10:16am
    Of course it's a farce - taking a full year's tax-declared income and then arbitrarily dividing it by 26 fortnights is absurd. So some engineer is out of work for three months, and then gets a job in a major corporation for nine months on a salary of $120k - is he/she then supposed to spread that income over twelve months for Centrelink? NO - income that NEEDS to be declared is only during the time of receipt of social security benefits. Once that person goes off benefits their income does not apply.

    I used to have peaks and lows in club bus driving - Christmas etc was busy as - and if my annual income was used instead of fortnightly, I would have been better off on pension per fortnight. Never heard The Good Colonel C'Link offer to do that - and now they want to run a different ball game for others (not me - I've got all my pay slips and they are in for one hell of a fight if they try it on with me).

    Is anything being done to fix it? of course! The Infamous Tudgepacker and his cohort The Railroad Porter are stonewalling on the issue and saying it is working like a charm, pretending there is nothing wrong about someone receiving a bill for nearly $140,000 - around 11-12 years dole payments..... say what??

    They should both resign immediately in disgrace and commit honourable seppuku.

    but we all know by now that politicians by and large are only there for the gravy train in reality - not to do the right thing. That's why we have some dynastical politicians, like Porter. The ropes and contacts are handed down from generation to generation.

    Talk about El Grando Republica Da San Austrador, Great Banana Republic Of the South Seas.... the greatest thieves and liars run the country for us, and we get to pick bananas for two pesos if we have the chance.
    Janran
    9th Jan 2017
    11:12am
    We all want welfare and tax cheats to be brought to justice, but to terrorise poor, ordinary, innocent people over Christmastime is preposterous!

    I can't believe these pollies are so bloody cruel to people who are living on the edge. Of course, the pollies are entitled to all sorts of rorts and they have no idea how frightening it is for people to lose even a skerrick of their meagre income. With their own snouts so greedily gorging into their (taxpayers!) troughs, they don't even have time to look up and see the harm they are doing to the fabric of our society. It is so Trumpy.

    Our federal Government has just notched up another disaster on their incompetency scale.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    11:33am
    Christmas time is the best time to do these things - people's guards are down, their access to professionals is limited, they are often away from home anyway and can't access their files etc.

    You can always count on a sneaky government pulling something like this around holiday times.
    HarrysOpinion
    9th Jan 2017
    11:37am
    Janran - "I can't believe these pollies are so bloody cruel to people
    " ?
    - Only the Liberal-National Coalition Party can be so cruel and callous to poor and vulnerable people. -
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    11:53am
    Someone earning $120,000 pa needs investigating if they claimed welfare for 3 months. I dealt with a similar case recently and Centrelink fixed it over the phone.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:06pm
    How so - if they only WORKED for nine months and were FORCED to live on benefits for three - how do they need 'investigating'? A cursory look at reality will resolve that in a few seconds.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:22pm
    It is very unlikely that his would happen with all the strict rules so if it did then Centrelink is doing the right thing by investigating them. If they have done nothing wrong and can prove it then what have they got to worry about? Nothing.

    It all sounds like people whinging because they have been all caught out to me.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:46pm
    Strict rules and Centrelink then going around them seems to be the issue here, OG.... it is The Good Colonel who is not abiding by the rules that say that when you earn XX dollars in a fortnight - you must declare that FORTNIGHTLY income - not your annual income and then relate it to 26 fortnights.

    When I worked, my tax records showing gross etc went to the ATO every week... so there was no problem with anyone wishing to check - and I never once got any comment on the estimates I was forced to make before getting pension.... at times I OVER-estimated, but have yet to see an offer of reimbursement....
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:50pm
    Everyone else I know underestimates and pays it back if necessary. After all they are estimates.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:57pm
    I simply tried to be as accurate as possible.... and when in doubt always give them a few bucks.... hard when you cannot define hours of work.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:14pm
    You have to remember that governments never value those who do the right thing. Self funded retirees can tell you that. Don't be surprised that this government is after the bottom end because it sure as hell has no intention of going after the biggest rorters in the nation: the rich and their multinational corporate interests.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    5:58pm
    And never forget what I've explained to yez all several times - by FORCING a person to expend all their resources BEFORE giving them financial support - all Colonel Clink is doing is postponing their dependence, or some level of dependence, on social Security into the future.

    Would they not be better in the long run supporting those out of work immediately, and thus permitting them a better chance of not being totally reliant on pension later on?

    Stoopid is as stoopid does, as they say down in Green Bow - but then - this government is about to declare that Pensions also are now a debt to the commonwealth and will be recouped on death.....

    They can go and royally screw themselves... I'll march on Canberra alone if I have to... losers can stay at home and rot....
    Rosret
    11th Jan 2017
    9:10am
    https://www.change.org/p/malcom-turnbull-stop-centrelinks-automated-debt-recovery-until-it-s-fixed?recruiter=39806711&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition
    Farside
    9th Jan 2017
    10:56am
    Two points: one, the process requires attention. It's not about a moratorium as those who have received benefits without entitlement should be required, as a minimum, to repay the excess payments. Welfare fraud should not be tolerated. There is an inherent problem using averaging to compare the amounts reported to Centrelink, but it is a useful filter to identify and prioritise the cases to examine for potential fraud. The risk of erroneously sending an automated letter can be significantly reduced by directing the most extreme of these letters first to a case officer for analysis and review. Issues with misspelt employer declarations etc should be easily resolved.

    Second point, why is anyone quoting the observations and perceptions of a customer facing compliance officer? Is what the officer is alleged to have said what he or she said? Is what the the officer is alleged to have said true? Is it useful to know and react to the information?. The unnamed officer says 20% are real debts, the minister responsible says 80% are real debts. Clearly there is a difference of some magnitude but ask yourself, which of these two people is most likely to receive the statistics from the overall program? It would be a real surprise if front line staff in any organisation were on top of the day to day organisation level performance metrics for their organisation.
    Batara
    9th Jan 2017
    11:11am
    In view of the arrogant manner in which this minister responds and the doubtful veracity, or perhaps it is just lack of being on top of the issues, in his responses I have no faith in anything this minister says. He has destroyed his credibility by his unwillingness to admit, perhaps this is an issue, we will look into it. That was all he needed to say initially. Now his only choice is to get out of politics. He is thoroughly hated - with good reason.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    11:49am
    Human natural has shown time and time again that the loudest, most abusive person in a dispute is the one who is at fault or has the most to hide and answer for.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:07pm
    That'll be me, Fast Eddie - and I've got nothing to hide..... I just lead from the front unlike those who live in Twerp Palace in Canberra.
    Lookfar
    9th Jan 2017
    12:18pm
    Farside, there are two major flaws in your thinking, one is that the management always know more than the workers, Centrelink employees work in the same room, they share during lunch breaks etc, magagement only get told what they want to hear from area supervisors and may have absolutely no idea what is actually going on, and the second major flaw is expecting management to tell the truth when it might mean losing their jobs, 80% is so unlikely that one suspects that is the case here, whereas the 20% is reported by someone who is speaking out when likely to lose his job if apprehended, - please think it through Farside.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:32pm
    I agree Farside as it has been running for six months now. All people have to do is either own up to their fraud and make arrangements to pay it back or provide evidence to the contrary. It isn't that hard.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:15pm
    Eddie: and add to that 'and usually gets his/her way'.
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    7:33pm
    Old Geezer, lovely comment if it was only that easy and as for arranging payments, most are required to pay before they can challenge the validity of the claims. If you have read all the facts behind this issue, then your short term memory is failing.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:20am
    Your presumption of 'fraud' is an insult to the majority of those who have received 'bills', OG. Do try to keep up with the facts.

    Let the Ombudsman take a look at it..... then we'll talk turkeys....
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    4:48am
    Lookster, I have thought it through and came to the view that staff sharing anecdotes in the lunch room or by the watercooler in a single office is not going to inform them what is happening across a multitude of offices. The anecdote is simply the untested observation and perception of one or more staff. In my experience these anecdotes frequently amount to no more than uninformed speculation and provide little useful insight for front line staff or the various levels of management that rely upon the aggregated data
    . Transaction data analysis is used in many organisations to inform front line staff and supervisors to understand what is happening, often at odds to the isolated perceptions of some staff.

    Second point, if the minister is misrepresenting the actual performance then this will come to light in fullness of time, either through the senate review process, leaks or other enquiries. The ombudsman has since launched an enquiry so we shall soon see whether real debt frequency is nearer 80% per the minister or the 20% according to the unnamed officer.

    Your criticisms of management scream of bias and gross generalisation. If the aggregate metrics for something so simple as case status are indeed inaccurate then the obvious place to start looking at the source of the inaccuracy is the initial data entry by front line staff. Comparison across area supervisor metrics would quickly inform what is happening. A local anecdote is not necessarily true nor sufficiently representative to use as a basis to extrapolate results.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    10:55am
    ''if the minister is misrepresenting the actual performance then this will come to light in fullness of time, either through the senate review process, leaks or other enquiries.''

    Hopefully, Farside. And in the meantime, what of the people who suffer because they are wrongly accused? Oh, they don't matter, do they?
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:08pm
    Dear, God, Heinrich! Der Fuhrer said "Make guests of the Jews" - not "Gas the Jews"....

    "Ach, well, Hans - sometimes mistakes are made... sh!t happens."
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    4:58pm
    Trebor, what are you babbling about? If this is your attempt at satire then don't give up the day job.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:10pm
    Rainey, those wrongly accused simply contact DSS and explain the differences between what they declared to ATO and Centrelink. I have said elsewhere the process is not perfect and the most extreme recovery letters should be reviewed by a case officer before sending to the welfare recipient.

    It need not be an ordeal and it seems those dealt a dud hand may have some legal recourse against Centrelink if Centrelink has been cavalier in its approach.

    As I understand it the letter of demand is sent only if the welfare recipient fails to respond or make contact before the due date. Averaging only happens in the recovery letter, which they should not see if responding to initial please explain letter.

    In any event the process is now being reviewed so we will soon see what emerges amid the hype.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    11:14am
    Farside, some of those targeted didn't even get the initial letter because their address had changed! Six years is a long time.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:11pm
    ooooh - and I always thought sarcasm was the lowest form of wit.... I thought that was a fine piece of satire....
    Bobho
    9th Jan 2017
    10:59am
    It seems that we are witnessing repeated "political and management failure" at Centrelink when it comes to technology. Where is the due care?
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    11:09am
    It comes from having the senior management on contract and thus answerable direct to the government of the day rather than to their office as an independent public servant.

    These boys, including your police commissioners, do the bidding of the GOTD or get the boot... I'd like you to think about that one for a minute or two..... and remember who started this rot in public servants and their independence (hint his name rhymes with Coward).....

    Thus public servants have become another political arm of government and not the independent service they were designed and intended to be.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    11:28am
    I've already raised the question elsewhere of whether or not this marks an unannounced change in policy, from only determining benefit reduction relating to income earned during receipt of benefit, to arbitrarily shifting the goal posts to the concept that benefits and income over a year should be considered.

    Such a move may even be flouting social security law, and certainly WILL fail the test of 'natural justice' once brought before a court of law.

    Just some thinking matter for you - I haven't seen much response from the opposition and no clear statement that "we WILL fix this!".. etc.. nothing new there. All unpalatable measures by a despotic government of the day attract a little cursory token 'opposition' then are quietly allowed to remain once the opposition becomes the government.

    I'm waiting for a letter - shouldn't get one, but if I do I'm ready - one chance to fix, then it's court time for you lot.... we'll see how far you get then.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    11:37am
    We need to consider this kind of policy move - think to the future when a government will suddenly, on Christmas Eve, no doubt, determine that it is in ITS best interests to declare all pensions a debt and raise debt against pensioners - or suddenly cut pensions retrospectively and raise debts against pensioners...

    This policy apparent of averaging income over a year has massive repercussions in many ways in the approach to social security and needs to be carefully watched. Maybe one day they'll average income over your working life and then say you are being paid too much pension.

    Our current style of 'government' (of both 'sides') is insidious in that it functions primarily for itself first and you last..... a legacy of the idiot's idea that government is some kind of 'business' when it is nothing of the sort.... it is a SERVICE to and for the people...
    Knight Templar
    9th Jan 2017
    12:08pm
    As a former federal public servant I can assure you the politicisation of the bureaucracy started with Gough Whitlam in 1972 ... not John Howard.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:21pm
    Aye - but King John The Last, Sheriff of Nottingham And Tyrante signed up the senior executive on contracts thus finally demolishing the independence of that senior management... and making of them lap-dogs of the government of the day. I also am an ex CPS guy....

    You will note my comments on 'government of two 'sides'...... none shall 'scape the lash....
    4b2
    9th Jan 2017
    11:08am
    These two articles sum up the incompetence and disrespect shown to taxpayers and constituents. If the same rules applied to their own behaviour of misuse of taxpayers money they would need several by elections to replace the greedy and sneaky culprits.

    Why aren't our MPs subject to the same conditions placed on business. Business travel must be substantiated as business purposes. Receipts must be submitted and endorsed to receive a tax relief.

    Fix you own back your first before you attack the vulnerable.
    Bobho
    9th Jan 2017
    11:23am
    So what is the first step to change this?
    A petition asking the minister to resign?
    A survey by YourLifeChoices to give some indication of the level of satisfaction with the services provided by Centrelink and/or the Minister's commitment to better standards?
    We are all talking about it, but what can we do about it - before the next elections?
    Sundays
    9th Jan 2017
    11:43am
    change.Org have a petition which you can sign
    Slimmer Cat
    9th Jan 2017
    11:58am
    Just remember that the "robo-debt" data matching system Centrelink is using was introduced by Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek in June 2011 and they added $71 million to their budget and you probably voted for them. So the system will not change with a change of Government
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:38pm
    I also heard there was another data matching system being used to match data from insurance companies with the values people put on their art and other collections for insurance. It will be interesting when they bring that one in too.
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    7:57pm
    Cherry picking from a biased Australian article, Slimmer Cat. The system that was turned on in July appears not to be tested properly and very badly written.
    It can only be guessed at what direction was given by the government for the timing of turning on the system.
    Better get mister metadata on to it, then there would be no problems as it wouldn't work at all.
    Oldman Roo
    10th Jan 2017
    2:30pm
    Old Geezer , I doubt very much they will find enough Pensioners on the Insurance data match with valuable treasures or collections to make it worthwhile .
    But if they did it on the rich with their often ill gotten gains through tax evasion , the deficit in Canberra could be turned from the red into black in no time .
    Of course we are not going to see this as the LNP is looking after their own while they are governing and will not be in Government after the next election .
    Leanonme
    9th Jan 2017
    11:16am
    Centrelink need to be removed from controlling Aged Pensions.
    Pay retirees the Minimum working Wage [at least]without the means testing. If a persons last recorded income was less that say $150,000.00 per year. I'm sure the cost to do this will be less that the administrative stuff ups, the continuous monitoring and inefficiencies made by Centrelink. It would also allow Aged Pensioners a little more freedom and save a lot more stress. For those of us who have worked all our lives, never claimed a single thing from the Government, paid taxes and saved for our retirement are now being penalised whilst those who did the opposite are protected.
    Slimmer Cat
    9th Jan 2017
    12:00pm
    And continually complain how hard done by they are!
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:28pm
    Yes - the guilty are quiet - the innocent shout their innocence from the rooftops...

    Double the pension now and chop super and perks for the slimmer cats as well as the fat - they've had their run and now owe society a debt...... (LMAO emotion implied)....
    Triss
    9th Jan 2017
    2:36pm
    Isn't there a law against bullying? Why isn't the Human Rights Commission querying Centrelink's behaviour? Don't I remember CentreLink being chastised several years ago?
    [http://www.cpsa.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=296:centrelink-unfair-debt-recovery-rules-called-into-question-by-senate-inquiry-&catid=3:income&Itemid=45]
    [http://guides.dss.gov.au/family-assistance-guide/7/3/2/10]
    It is way past time for the underdogs to show their teeth and bite back.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    4:49pm
    Leanonme, I agree with you completely. And this Centrelink debacle is just another example of this destructive government driving a welfare mentality by favouring the bludgers and no-goods. Think about it. If you NEVER work and earn, you are NEVER going to get a letter from Centrelink saying the ATO says you earned more than you declared. It's those who take on casual work when available or take an unsatisfactory job and work for a time but can't make a go of it who have some earnings showing up that confuse the Centrelink computer system.

    At the end of the day, it's all about social engineering to stop battlers elevating themselves and getting ahead in life. Bash the disadvantaged who try to earn a bit. Bash the savers in retirement. Bash the homeowners in retirement. Keep feeding the useless and the bludgers and the cheats, but take take take from those who strive to do what's right for the nation.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    6:00pm
    Same thought occurred to me, Rainey.... well done..
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    4:59am
    Rainey: "Bash the disadvantaged who try to earn a bit. Bash the savers in retirement. Bash the homeowners in retirement. Keep feeding the useless and the bludgers and the cheats, but take take take from those who strive to do what's right for the nation."

    Good luck with that.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    1:09pm
    It's what's happening, Farside... or are you not capable of seeing what's really going on? Perhaps you didn't notice that there are now threats of taking houses off pensioners. Not good enough to force them to sell them to pay aged care bonds.... now the government wants to take them to repay aged pensions received. SICK!
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    5:10pm
    Nothing wrong with paying your OAP paying back their welfare out of their estate? Nothing.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:16pm
    Rainey, giving pensions to those not entitled to receive them simply reduces the amount available in the pension bucket. As OG says, nothing wrong with repaying benefits received from the estate.

    If fraud and excess is eliminated then pensions might be increased to improve the circumstances of the most disadvantaged.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    6:11pm
    And if you keep stripping hard working battlers of all benefits and grinding them into poverty, then taking what they worked for 5 decades to accrue so their kids don't inherit, you end up with a society where nobody wants to work because it doesn't pay off. And then what? It's STUPID.

    This nation has TONS of money to improve the circumstances of the disadvantaged, simply by TAXING THOSE WHO SHOULD BE TAXED at the PROPER RATE. Stop beating up on battlers and start hammering the rich, greedy bastards who are stuffing the nation with their avoidance and selfishness.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    11:53pm
    Rainey, the nation does not have tons of money to improve quality of life for the disadvantaged but certainly could have had more income to redistribute if as a nation we had captured more of the the benefits from the resources boom.

    Unfortunately the government of the day and the voters take short term rather than strategic views. I think you will find the companies that did not pay tax were not required to according to law. The problem is the tax act needs to be reformed so that it is harder for these companies to manipulate affairs to avoid tax. The difficulty is these same international companies are largely rules unto themselves and will manage their global tax position.

    For now welfare is just another budget line item and something to be managed. Don't like how it's managed then change the government.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    11:20am
    What I don't like is that pensioners who worked their guts out and paid their tax honestly are being stripped of their lifestyle while the rich who don't pay taxes honestly continue to party and the government continues to demonstrate incompetence. Yes, the tax act needs to be changed, and that should be done BEFORE targeting the battlers who built this nation.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:14pm
    Plenty of tax available under the Trebor Government approach to retirement packaging.... pay all the pension, stop all the arguing and bickering, then tax all income and fringe b enefits over and above at the going rate. That'll leave the small fish alone and catch the sharks.
    Sundays
    9th Jan 2017
    11:23am
    It makes you wonder what consultation they did with front line staff when they implemented this new computer system. My guess, it was done by outside consultants being paid mega bucks and no clear idea how Centrelink payments work. As for Christian Porter the only aspect of his portfolio he seems to focus on is debt recovery when looking after pensioners, people with disabilities, the unemployed and families is so much more!
    Slimmer Cat
    9th Jan 2017
    12:05pm
    The system was introduced by The Australian Labor Party when they were in Office in June 2011. Blame Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:09pm
    Slimmer - read my posts above..... we are all well aware that The
    Government Of Two Parties is an abject failure - but the issue is THIS government and its handling of these issues.
    Nerk
    9th Jan 2017
    11:24am
    Well I am off to live in the Philippines lost my part pension yet what I earn from investments is low, consider living in another country, the average wage there is around 150 per month.
    good on you Turdball.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:18pm
    Good luck with that one. As they say at ISIS HQ 'watch your head mate'.
    Who'd want to live in a climate like the Philippines anyway.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:19pm
    No tropics for me - might revert to the old idea of buying a derelict farm house in Normandy on 2-3 acres and setting up a tourist trap over the ancient battle fields.... le Gouvernement Francais donne l'argent renovateur a` belle taux..... French government give restoration money at a good rate of low interest.... and surprise, surprise - they support small business.....

    Snows in winter in Normandy though... not to worry.... three storey farm house wit steep roof - line and insulate interior, gravity feed tank water and wind/solar power on roof etc.. my usual gardens out back...
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    8:01pm
    Bye, but see you in 6 months after payment stop.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:23am
    Don't suffer payment stop - just utilities, and if I have no utilities in Oz - what's the worry?

    Suggesting that PENSION will be stopped is a nonsense and part of the fear campaign - only utilities payment is stopped.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:10pm
    Mind you - that's not to say the parasites in Cambra won't try that one on, too.

    Vote 'em all out and start again with fair dinkum Aussie people.
    Crazy Horse
    9th Jan 2017
    11:31am
    The only thing that will fix Centrelink is to ditch the cruel & nasty Liberal Government that habitually picks on those least able to defend themselves.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:19pm
    True....but there are significant problems at the bottom end of society, compounded by disappearing jobs in the first world and the top end believing they have an entrenched right to not pay tax.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:12pm
    Mick - that's why offshore corporations and individuals should pay tax HERE first, then they can claim it back as a deduction from their tax haven. If enough countries in the world wake up to this blatant robbery and shut the same gates - the rorters will soon come to heel.
    inextratime
    9th Jan 2017
    11:32am
    How long to the next election ?
    Nerk
    9th Jan 2017
    11:39am
    I think just under 3 years for next election but not 100% sure
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    11:50am
    TOO long!!
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:00pm
    Where's Cosgrove stand in all this? Will he stand by and watch while the poor are pillaged and plundered? Send in the clowns.... Do a James I but catch the birds before they fly.....

    Forget your spare ammo again, Peter?
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:20pm
    Too long. Where's John Kerr when you need him.
    Patriot
    9th Jan 2017
    4:22pm
    Unless we can get rid of Labour, NLP & Greens from the "Seats of Power", only the names will change.
    The actions might be slightly for each of these 3 parties - However, their aims are to commit us to slavery.

    BURY to political party System!
    miker
    9th Jan 2017
    11:42am
    Sign the Petition that has been raised and dont forget this for the next Election.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:21pm
    A lot of voters are branded and unable to vote other than they have done for the last 50 years. That is a big big part of the problem. And then they believe what they heard on TV...."Brian told me so......" when they are being lied to in election campaigns. Trump pretty well hit that nail on the head.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:09am
    "Brian told me so ...", ah that most reliable of names. Note never Mick told me so or any one of the many other names used by keyboard warriors on this site. But Mick is right and the Australian condition is that most voters vote according to aspiration or tradition, and often contrary to their own best interests viz the number of welfare recipients that vote LNP ... go figure.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    11:50am
    Good to see Centrelink finally cracking down on those defrauding welfare. Sure they are not perfect but if they have being running this program for six months then they are not too many people affected or we would have heard a lot more sooner.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:00pm
    You don't read too good, do you, OG - this is not about 'cracking down on welfare fraud' - this is about creating 'fraud' where none exists or existed. Telling people that their benefits will now be averaged out over a year's total income is nonsense and probably a breach of law... either that or it marks a sneaky and unannounced change in Social Security policy - something that should be fully tested before any hint of implementation is allowed.

    I didn't hear any of these gutless twerps in Canberra come out and saying "Right - we are moving the goal posts! From now on if you receive social security, your total income over the period you get those will be included in calculation of your proper benefit! We stand by this decision, and justify it by (whatever - fill in empty spaces)....

    This current approach is just lying and cheating in the hope of catching people who DON'T owe money and forcing them to pay what they don't owe.

    Let's say OG cops unemployment benefit for six years - then lands a job through his mates as CEO of Barf Inc, a processed food corporation - at $5m a year.....

    Does that suddenly mean that for the six years he was in the wasteland - he now owes The Guv every cent back?

    This, to me, sounds remarkably like the fool's paradise idea of trying to make an Earned Pension a 'debt' to be recovered on death.

    This needs to be stomped on right now.... and those who came up with it along with it. Terminate Fat Hank without benefits - he can live off his assets until they are wound down and then go on Unemployment Benefits - and hang the politicians responsible for a start.... ten at a time until they get the message.....
    Sundays
    9th Jan 2017
    12:03pm
    I don't like welfare cheats either OG, but any system which also scoops up innocent people is not the way to go. I can only imagine the stress being caused to people who have done nothing wrong. By all means, do all the checks but get it right! Their computer system is flawed and needs to be fixed first. Obviously testing phase was limited
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:03pm
    Think it through, people. The Guv secretly decree that your pension is now a debt - you cark it and leave a house etc as your heritage to your children and grand-children. Suddenly they are slugged with a bill for 'outstanding debt' including a 10% collection fee........ how do they defend against that?

    And you wouldn't call that thievery of the highest order and a total demand that your entire assets etc are nothing but the property of the State? And some of you here screech about the 'lefties' when your own 'rightist' government is worse than Stalin, with its insane intent of driving the peasants off their land an into serfdom?

    Am I the only one who can see that? If so, I despair of the lot of you.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:19pm
    If you earn $120,000 a year taxable income then I agree with the government investigating you. The rules are so tight that it would be unusual for such a person to claim benefits at all.

    We are only hearing part of the story here. Many people caught up in it would have been defrauding the taxpayer for years. Sure there may be innocent people but these people would have been dealt with fairly on providing evidence.

    I have never heard of a collection fee either.
    Slimmer Cat
    9th Jan 2017
    12:30pm
    If you own a home and are not supporting yourself then the Government of the day should claim back all welfare payment you have been given during retirement. Remember those paying for themselves are paying for YOU as well. The pension is not so you can save and pass on a house to your children and grandchildren.
    Saving and paying off a home was for security in old age - buying into a nursing home etc not for passing onto children and grandchildren.
    Just look at the UK, everybody gets the pension as they have paid into the pension fund all their working lives. Then look at the huge cost of death duties payable by everybody in the UK and it is only a matter of time before they come here!
    Death duties are part of the Labor Party policy recommended by Ken Henry.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:32pm
    Plenty of claims of a collection fee and threats of Federal Police and debt collectors (who will want a fee) knocking down your door and Night and Fogging you at whim....

    How do people 'provide evidence' of five or more years ago? Most people don't keep their records that long and the Guv has decreed that the onus of proof is upon them and not it.

    Petty Fascists abound in every corner of this once-great land.... and suffer nightmares at the thought that someone might be receiving money to live from a government whose policies have assisted in the destruction of their opportunity to earn a viable income.... whole country is being ruined by these 'dole bludgers' getting too much...... not by overfed piss poor management at the top.... no sirree - blame the peasants......
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:34pm
    I agree Slimmer Cat. Why should those paying for themselves have to pay more to pay for someone else?
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:07pm
    People earned and bought their homes, you lot - your personal property is not owned by the government in some super-commune concept of everything being the property of the state to dispose as it sees fit.

    You are absolutely entitled to do whatever you wish with your bought and paid for property (as long as it's legal), and to receive your Earned Pension without complaint from the government.

    If you wish to sell your home and spend - fine - but the same government will decree that the cash you earned from selling that home is now usable to reduce your pension, so they have zero argument for suggesting that you should live off the proceeds of your own roof over your head first - and then pay rent and receive rental assistance.

    Go sell your million dollar home - and that is all you will have - you then need to secure alternative accommodation through purchase or renting - and if you rent, you get nothing from the Guv'nah since you've got too much in the bank.... good luck with that kind of crazy scheme.

    Every parent wishes to leave their children better off in life - that is an inalienable right when it comes to your own property - I don't see many politicians holding back on encouraging their brats to get onto the gravy train..... it's called dynasty politics.... no wonder we get the same old rat-baggery over and over.

    Typical unthinking idea from the 'right'....
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    1:08pm
    Slimmer Cat, yes and also in the UK if you go into a nursing home or aged care you MUST sell your home to pay for it unless your spouse (and/or dependants are) is still living in it. And the heirs still pay inheritance tax on the residue assuming there is any left after your death.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:23pm
    I agree with you Geezer but would like YOU to now add the rich to that list. We both know the rich take much more than the bottom end ever did and that tax shelters have been a growth industry which is leading us to an American system where the top live in opulent wealth and the rest live in poverty. Is that what you want for our country?
    Sundays
    9th Jan 2017
    2:59pm
    We had death duties up until the 70s. They were so unpopular that I doubt any government would go there again! I think you're just trying to frighten people and stir things up slimmer cat. As for the idea that people repay the aged pension from the sale of thei home, really! Are you seriously advocating that instead of saving and buying a home, Australians should just spend all their earnings and let the state provide shelter in their old age, or should they all live on the streets!
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:26pm
    The is proposal doing the rounds that will give anyone the OAP who wants it providing it is paid back in full by their estate. For most people with not enough other assets to cover the debt would mean the house would have to be sold or mortgaged to pay the debt.

    That is much fairer than death duties on everyone.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:50pm
    And it will remain an unthought out and unthinking proposal, OG - a Pension is a Right, not a debt to the government, and your personal property is not the property of the government. Pensions are bought and paid for over a lifetime of tax contribution - not going through that with you all again.. it is undeniable fact.

    Many when confronted by such a ludicrous demand will simply spend it all and have no estate.... let the government pay for it all... the rest will bring the government to its knees in one way or another....
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:05pm
    Oh yes, OG, of course it's fairer to take the houses off the underpaid battlers who were ripped off all their working lives by the stinking rich, so that the stinking rich don't have to pay their way through death duties or higher taxes!

    What a vile individual are! And determined to destroy the economy, because taking everything away from responsible working people is just going to stop them working.

    SlimmerCat, obviously you are among the privileged elite who insist the world owes the rich are living and the poor should be enslaved. Maybe you and OG need to be reminded of what caused most revolutions in this world. The working class will only take abuse by the vile greedy bastards for just so long before they rise up.
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    8:18pm
    Old Geezer this has been checked for many years but manually, collected 1.8 billion in 2010-11. Which is very time consuming and expensive. This is why the labour put in place the development of an automated system in 2011. What has happened to the development since the LNP took over in 2013.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:45am
    O joy ... Slimmer Cat, Mick, OG all on the money. In a nutshell ... welfare received should be recoverable from the estate upon death.

    Rainey, chill ... responsible working people won't stop working; that would be irresponsible. Your avarice is making you say crazy stuff.

    Trebor, do yourself a favour and familiarise yourself with the legislation around pension entitlement. It is not a right as it is subject to eligibility criteria but who knows, maybe one day it shall and your beliefs on such could become something more than just wishful thinking. Let's hope Finland's basic income experiment proves to be a success.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    1:24pm
    Farside, you want to strip people of everything they earned and saved if they don't retire rich so that rich bastards can keep dodging tax, and you accuse me of avarice? That's rich!

    People who draw pensions in retirement fall into one of four groups:
    1. They were battlers who were exploited and underpaid during working life and therefore couldn't save enough to be self-sufficient, despite trying very hard to accrue as much wealth as they were able.
    2. They were irresponsible spendthrifts during working life
    3. They faced trauma or major crisis that changed their material status at some point - probably late in life, or they were just hideously disadvantaged (maybe disabled)
    4. They are cheats or manipulators

    Groups 2, 3 and 4 are not going to change their ways no matter what.
    Group 1 is rapidly being persuaded by idiots and incompetents and nasty bastards that it's foolish to be in that group and you can't benefit from doing what's right, and YES THEY WILL CHANGE. This government will compel them to - and the tunnel-visioned fools who support the LNP will help
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:25pm
    P$cript - the Pension is an Entitlement and a Right for the simple reason that is has been paid for by the approved methods throughout a lifetime of work. That it has an assets test attached in no way removes it as a Right, since it remains a Right of those not eligible, even though they do not receive it.

    The proportion of income and other tax levies set aside for Social Security OVERALL (mark my words) has never been removed from income tax - the whole box and dice has simply been folded into 'consolidated revenue'. I'll try again since you seem to be a newcomer here:-

    When you remove water from a stream and pump it into a dam, and that water is still earmarked for the same irrigation scheme as required, since that supply has been paid for - even though that water is now in a holding dam, that in no way removes the duty to provide it to that irrigation scheme.

    How many times and in how many ways must I explain this?

    Governments HERE have a duty and obligation to provide ADEQUATE Social Security, all bought and paid for by the public - they do NOT possess the right to arbitrarily shut off that supply to suit their own budget or 'bottom line'- and furthermore - government under no circumstances should be placing ITS 'budget' first - it is NOT a business, and its primary duty is to provide for the people first and foremost - not for itself.

    Like any householder - they pay the DUE BILLS, such as Social Security bought and paid for, FIRST - then they go off chasing their windmills and setting up QANGOs to provide a sinecure for old mates and failed politicians.

    Do we REALLY need a 'submarine corporation'? NO - D^D in co-ordination with finance etc used to work out what was needed, why and how much could be afforded. They still do - and all we pay 'ASC' board of old mates for is to shuffle the papers.

    Plenty of fat in government to be cut before the Bills due are touched in any way.

    Now - let me re-iterate:- Pay EVeryone Pension - and Tax ALL Income and Fringe Benefits Over and Above That. That way the government could recoup BILLIONS .... from those who have benefited from their preferential system of retirement package etc while the ordinary punter who's paid his/her taxes goes hungry.

    That proposition finalises every argument over this issue.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:26pm
    My apologies, P$cript - that was for Farside.... I missed the name change on that post....
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    4:53pm
    Trebor: "the Pension is an Entitlement and a Right for the simple reason that is has been paid for by the approved methods throughout a lifetime of work."

    Rubbish. A complete load of tosh. Nobody is entitled to a pension unless eligible on age and means tested grounds. It is therefore welfare and classified as such. Except for a brief period in late 1940s with the ill fated National Welfare Fund, there is no separate fund established to pay pensions for even a day of work. THe closest you have is a budget
    Farside
    11th Jan 2017
    12:19am
    Rainey,"you want to strip people of everything they earned and saved if they don't retire rich so that rich bastards can keep dodging tax..."

    no I don't. I think people should be supported for providing for themselves when unemployed or retired so that welfare is more effectively distributed to those who need it. In principal I support a national basic income paid to each adult regardless of marital status.

    I don't object to people saving for and accumulating assets over a lifetime, indeed I encourage it and think this behavuour should be rewarded. Nor do I have an issue with bequeathing remaining assets to children and others.

    What I do take issue with is the widely held expectation that these choices should be cross-subsidised by both the disadvantaged as well as taxpayers enabling people with means to receive welfare and no obligation to repay.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:17pm
    You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make him drink facts...
    john
    9th Jan 2017
    12:01pm
    Its because the Government is fundamentally flawed!

    9th Jan 2017
    12:02pm
    Porter couldn't care less as it is not his money and he will be gone after this term anyway. Typical of this breed of greedy, inept, egotistic government sods.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:25pm
    That pretty well applies to almost all politicians Eddie. Their salaries should be tied to efficiency. Try and get even 1 pollie to agree to that one.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    6:00am
    Eddie, I think you will find Porter does care but is unable or incapable of doing better. Most people go into politics with an intent of influencing the world around them, even if nnt everybody shares their politics or beliefs. The politicians of the day are reliant upon the public service to advise and implement policy so if there is a problem then the spotlight should be shone on the career public servant executives,

    Mick, it does nobody any favours for politicians to have an efficiency component in their salaries as efficiency can be easily manipulated in the short term with often dire long term consequence. The career civil servants on the other hand should be measured against long term efficiency targets.

    Politicians should be rewarded fairly for the service while in office provided those rewards cease when they leave office. As ordinary citizens, albeit ex-politicians, they should be subject to same welfare and superannuation provisions as any other citizen. Politicians forced from office for unethical practice should lose privileges and penalties as would any similar employee.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:21pm
    Porter's heart is in the right place, but his mind is incapable of following? We've got a Human Services Minister and a Social Security Minister.... two for the price of one .. and they can't lead?

    Your last passage of thought has merit.... re politicians remuneration etc.
    Old Man
    9th Jan 2017
    12:22pm
    "Let’s not forget that a significant percentage of the people who will have received these letters may be disabled, have mental health issues, may have difficulties understanding complex language or quite simply, may be too scared to act for fear of being forced to pay back money they don't have."

    Nice emotive paragraph without any defining statements such as what is the significant percentage, how many are disabled,have mental health issues and may have difficulties understanding complex language. Where does the fear factor get written about?

    According to the minister, complaints total about 1.6% of those notified which is hardly a figure to get too excited about. There is a difference in the numbers who are required to repay with the minister quoting 80% and an unnamed source reported by the Guardian quoting 20%. Even if we accept the 20%, that is still nearly 34000 people who have been overpaid and need to reimburse the government. There is also a dispute with the alleged 10% recovery fee. If there is such a fee, is it added onto the debt or deducted from the debt prior to transferring the funds to Centrelink?

    As usual in this site, this story is very big on emotion and very small on facts to back up the allegations. And to those who wish to discuss this post, please stay with the facts and don't drop into the usual name-calling and personal attacks. They don't make any difference to me but show up the lack of facts of the responder to sensibly refute my post.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:26pm
    Being disabled , having mental health issues etc is no excuse for defrauding Centrelink. Yes they have now been caught out so they will simply have to deal with it. 1.6% is very low so the system must be working very well.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:36pm
    https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/owing-money

    The question here is the manner in which these 'debts' are being raised, and whether or not that constitutes a proper debt in the proper terms of the meaning of that word...... or is just an imposition based on a deliberately flawed premise, with the hope of holding up the unemployed at gunpoint.....
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:42pm
    Apparently it's on the letters of demand:-

    "You will then receive a letter stating the amount you owe, plus a “recovery fee” of 10 per cent. If you do not begin payments within two weeks, you may receive a letter from the debt recovery agency."

    http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/aussies-panicking-over-centrelink-demands-to-pay-up-to-avoid-debt-collector/news-story/a13ba2f6090aecc7152b5ceb65166315
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:42pm
    If you haven't defrauded Centrelink then you have nothing to worry about but if you have then you will have to pay it back. The wording of those letters would give you options on what to do. Simply follow them.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    12:43pm
    Let's hang Fat Hank The Sycophant first, pour encourager les autres...
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:45pm
    There should be a penalty for those who defraud Centrelink so I have no problem with the 10%.
    Old Man
    9th Jan 2017
    12:49pm
    Thanks TREBOR, no matter which system is used to establish a debt, there will be flaws in the system. By using the ATO, at least there will be fully documented income figures which cannot be denied.
    Old Man
    9th Jan 2017
    12:51pm
    OG, I don't agree that there should be a penalty on those overpaid by Centrelink. If there is a certain case of defrauding Centrelink then that is a court matter but most of those who have been overpaid have not set out to defraud but have made a genuine mistake.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    12:53pm
    Big difference between a genuine mistake and fraud. ATO fines you for both.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:11pm
    Big hurdle there, OG etc, is the demand for proof.... while refusing to give out HOW the 'debt' figure was arrived at in the first place. this needs to be resolved immediately.

    Remember what I said - if you work for an ethical employer - that employer will render unto Caesar in the ATO your regular payment and tax taken etc - the ATO has those figures and therefore when a demand is made on a person outside the reasonable time they can be expected to retain their pay slips etc - the ATO should be obliged to yield up those figures on demand - for free - so as to resolve these issues.

    They surely have the figures stashed on their system somewhere.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:27pm
    Sounds like the next advertisement to prop up the current bad bad government Old Man.
    How about for once you put pen to paper and advocate something which is fair. We both know what the crooks at the top are getting away with. Would make the scapegoats now being chased look like churchmice.
    Old Man
    9th Jan 2017
    3:54pm
    Thanks MICK, my fingers to keyboard have tried to point out the fairness in a government trying to recoup overpayments. If you have a fairer way to do this please enlighten us. As usual, you have attacked the messenger and then dropped in a bit of innuendo that has 3/4 of 5/8 of bugger all to do with the post.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:12pm
    Old Man, nobody like to see anyone taking more than they are entitled to, but what about the overpaid fat cats who claim huge salaries for stuffing up. Why aren't we claiming back the pay they claimed fraudulently and hitting them with a 10% recovery fee.

    What's good for the goose should be good for the gander. If there are errors being made that hurt innocent people, then those making the errors need to be held to account. And it doesn't matter how many errors. One can destroy a life or even a whole family!
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:12pm
    Old Man, nobody like to see anyone taking more than they are entitled to, but what about the overpaid fat cats who claim huge salaries for stuffing up. Why aren't we claiming back the pay they claimed fraudulently and hitting them with a 10% recovery fee.

    What's good for the goose should be good for the gander. If there are errors being made that hurt innocent people, then those making the errors need to be held to account. And it doesn't matter how many errors. One can destroy a life or even a whole family!
    Old Man
    9th Jan 2017
    6:00pm
    There you go Rainey, straight off subject. Your post isn't good enough to be posted once, let alone twice.

    Can you prove that the errors were not made by the people who got the money? No, I didn't think so.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    6:08pm
    Old Man you'll have to forgive Rainey. All she sees is her OAP plans have been stuffed up and wants to take it out on people like us that don't agree with her. It is so sad to see someone so consumed by something like that that doesn't really matter that much in the scheme of things.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    10:43am
    Firstly, OldMan, it's NOT off the subject. It's right on the subject. Laws should be applied consistently. If people are overpaid, they should have to pay the money back -whether they are overpaid by C/link in a time of hardship or whether they just lied on their resume and in job interviews to get a high paid job they can't do properly.

    Secondly, OG, nobody messed up my OAP plans. I am still working and will probably NEVER apply for a pension. My comments are driven by concern for the way this government is destroying our economy and our society. And yes, I'm consumed by anger at arseholes like you who claim hurting 330,000 people in a way that might destroy lives and families - and you wouldn't have the faintest idea WHAT impact loss has on these people you arrogant ASS - ''doesn't really matter much in the scheme of things''.

    A competent government could balance the budget, pay proper welfare, police welfare fraud as well as it realistically can be policed, and run a healthy society. This government cannot because it's engaged in social engineering to restore a feudal society in which we have the ''born rich'' and the ''downtrodden slaves'' and nothing between.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    1:30pm
    BTW OG, I just MIGHT apply for an OAP. I just MIGHT do what idiots like you are forcing many to do - cheat and manipulate - because there is sure no value whatsoever in being honest, hardworking and responsible. All we hear is ''give us your house'', ''pay more for health care and essentials''', ''give up your pension for people who didn't work as hard and need it less', and, by the way, cop insults from every direction from ARSEHOLES who know nothing and have no concept of human decency.

    It's a horrid world they are building, and it will be filled with horrid people. We are already seeing the evil increase.
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    3:51pm
    Looks like I hit that nail on the head.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:23pm
    Always one or two on every board to turn discussion into personal vitriol and side-track the issues.... I don't think that was what Kennedy meant re 'free exchange of information' .....

    Gentlemen - let us keep the personal attacks off the board and stick to the facts.
    BrianP
    9th Jan 2017
    12:53pm
    This is a very serious problem which is causing severe stress amongst a large number of vulnerable people. Some cases of incredible red tape and difficulty in contacting Centrelink are serious enough to bring people near to suicide.

    My wife and I were dragged through this by Centrelink between February and June 2016. It proved entirely due to mistakes by Centrelink and faults in their system. We are 63 and in financial hardship, disability and poor health. Yet Centrelink put us through considerable stress for 5 months. We had to really fight them every inch of the way and it knocked us down so much.

    Some have suggested we claim compensation for the suffering caused by their mistakes. We suggest YourLifeChoices gather support among its members and at least send a petition to Mr Wilkie or the Leader of the Opposition for action. You are right the PM should suspend the system - Centrelink senior management and Government don't really care how many vulnerable people they hurt.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:28pm
    The courts? Yeah, at $5,000 a day? You were done and nothing you can do about it. That's how the system crushes small people.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:55pm
    Hence the Trebor Party policy of no fees for the pursuit of justice... courts, like government, are not a business - their DUTY is to hand out justice and fair play according to Law, not according to law as written (yes, there is a huge difference) .... and no quibbling over the definition of justice here.. don't try to persuade me that someone rail-roaded will receive 'justice' in the prison system.... that's just a play on words.. weaseling around the reality that courts are criminal in nature of themselves.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:58pm
    .. oh - and I forgot to include - with 'law as written' ... "and most certainly NOT when injustice is handed down by regulation or departmental policy" ..... never forget that 70% of government is carried on by regulation and not legislation, let alone Law - which is why you see government departments of all kinds running riot over those they are intended to serve... and that often includes courts who function far too often on the premise that once an injustice has been enshrined by usage = precedent, it is now the final arbiter of all similar decisions, and there is no room for a NEW precedent overturning the injustice.

    Weak as piss the courts - bring on Deed!
    Rosret
    10th Jan 2017
    7:51am
    I hear you!
    ....and of course you need every minuscule cent that comes your way.
    What amazed me was the contempt of the people dealing with the situation. You have to hand it to the government they hire the "right" people to kick you when you're down.
    I think the solution maybe a joint legal action - I wonder if Gordon and Slater read this column.
    Even the inordinate number of hours on the phone to rectify the situation must have to count for something.
    phantom
    9th Jan 2017
    12:57pm
    Good on you "old geezer". If Labor get back in there will be no welfare because we will be broke. Greece and other countries realised to late about giving everything away. Super has been around since the 70's, property, shares for longer. If you haven't put any aside for retirement you go on the pension which is welfare. It's not a right because you paid taxes. Taxes or PAYG money is used to pay "dolies" and other welfare causes.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:16pm
    Nonsense - the downfall of the economy is due to bad management - which includes privatisation with all its attendant rising costs, offshoring of jobs, destruction of industrial base, policy of seeking 'cheaper' deals offshore (a nonsense since the outlay of cash is gone 100%), reliance on Banana Republicanism that employs few people and then only on a short term basis, and the sycophancy of governments respective in dealing with the myth of a 'global economy' that only exists in the minds of those wh benefit directly from it, and is by no stretch of the imagination 'global' in anything but trade, and certainly is no 'level playing field' of costs of living etc.

    Let's, for instance, put Australian wages on parity with Chinese wages - how long would there be trade between China and Oz then? No longer than five minutes - get in the real world and accept that trade requires disparity in national levels of income to the majority of consumers - or it falls flat.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:21pm
    The 'global economy' is like an anaconda slowly constricting itself, by the destruction of its own market base and share in the pursuit of endless profit while increasing its own competition and thus continually losing its competitive edge. Look at 'BHP Billiton' - the offshored BHP - is it managing, or going under slowly? How long will Ford and GM be able to sell their cars to low wage Asians, while destroying their home markets here and in the US etc by reducing the capacity of their own people to buy a Ford or GM car? How many Indians will buy a thundering V8? How many Australians will be able to afford to do so in a declining job and income market?
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:32pm
    You are so stereotypical government claptrap phantom.
    This lot has run up as much debt as Labor did during the GFC. Look up what the GFC was and how many people were thrown out of jobs in other countries which you decry what happened.
    Perhaps answer why this lot have been in office for 2 terms and have done nothing other than run up debt and attack workers whilst turning a blind eye to the rich....who are now to be handed $50 in tax cuts when we have a claimed Budget Emergency????
    Propaganda is so easy to spot. It's the post which has more holes than a Swiss cheese in it.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    2:28pm
    '$50 billion in tax cuts'. Typo.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    6:16am
    Trebor, "Let's, for instance, put Australian wages on parity with Chinese wages - how long would there be trade between China and Oz then? No longer than five minutes - get in the real world and accept that trade requires disparity in national levels of income to the majority of consumers - or it falls flat."

    Trade requires one party to have a surplus of a commodity, service or good and another party to have a deficit in same. The parties then exchange these goods. Currency is simply one means of measuring the differences in trade. If Chinese and Australian wages were same the Chinese would still buy Australian iron ore, lpg, coking and thermal coal, wine etc. Australia would still buy Chinese consumer goods because China has an advantage in scale and scope of manufacturing consumer goods. .
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:33pm
    Pay everybody in Australia the going rate for India of $10 a week and we won't be buying much of anything...

    I've posted this and similar lists many times - do your own reading.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:34pm
    The difference between being paid to teach and having to teach here is that in 'normal' teaching you get to deal with one crowd at a time then pass them on or fail them - here you have to go over the failures time and time again....
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:30pm
    Trebor, again the fallacious argument. Australians are not paid $10 a week, simple as that.

    The minimum wage in India is irrelevant other than saying India can use its relatively cheap labour resources to produce surplus goods that it can then export e.g. polished diamonds, jewellery, machinery, textiles, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Countries with higher wages cannot compete with India at this level without automation and so must focus on higher value added goods and services.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:28pm
    You are deliberately missing the point - reduction of REAL wages v costs of living HERE will generate less purchasing power, and thus trade will not increase or continue - it will slow down, China and India will slow down again, international tensions will rise over market share/ control of markets, and hostilities will once again appear on the horizon. It's not for no reason that the contest over markets in the Asian-Pacific Basin has been titled "The Second Hundred Year's War".

    On top of that, internal tensions within this country, and then those others, over the never-ending increase of poverty, will effectively de-stabilise each nation, and create a significant Underworld as a matter of pure survival for many. So much for nearly a century in upward social advancement...
    kinkakuji
    9th Jan 2017
    12:58pm
    There were retired people, well off & wanted for nothing, but got screwed over by the Big Banks & their Financial Advisors, But this Govt wants to classify them as Welfare Recipients now, not Victims of Crime & make those responsible account at a Royal Commission. When there is EQUALITY across the Pension System for all it will remain Controversial. Politicians that get Golden Handouts for Life, Immigrants, Refugees that get the Same as those that spent their Working Lives contributing to make this Nation what its is. Where is the Justice in the System? NONE just lob Us all into the same can of worms & Label US Welfare Recipients
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:34pm
    Good post. Of course banks now only have to front up to a once a year show where nothing happens other than lies to elected members. What else is new from the Turnbull government, a wholly owned subsidiary of the big end of town.
    kev888
    9th Jan 2017
    12:59pm
    discussion is great but keep it factual and simple. The pension is an entitlement we have all contributed in good faith $20,000 PA expecting to get it no matter how much one has accumulated or what ones financial status is. The thing about contracts is they are subject to change, in saying that the pension contract we have all under taken is now an unfair contract thus should be challenged by us all . the gate keepers have failed there duty of care sue them riot don't just stamp your feet....... do something or do nothing and bend over further .
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    1:14pm
    "The pension is an entitlement we have all contributed in good faith $20,000 PA expecting to get it no matter how much one has accumulated or what ones financial status is."

    Seriously kev888? So why is there a means test for the pension?
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    1:17pm
    The OAP is welfare as the only requirement is that you have no other means to support yourself.
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    1:19pm
    And meet the age requirement OG.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:24pm
    Settled for you all long ago - pay everyone the pension, have zero concessions for super and NG and CGT, and tax all income and fringe benefits over and above pension at the going tax rates for income....

    That'll bring in countless billions from retired leaners in politics, the past and present politicians... and their cronies with too much money to subvert into hidden profit schemes.

    Put all pension funding and super funding into one scheme, out of the reach of government's sticky hands, and run by an elected committee with good advisors without any political hue to them.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:36pm
    Good post kev. Sadly Australians are so apathetic that you are unlikely to get them to riot if that means missing a p*ss-up or the footy. So we all get what we deserve. Sad ain't it.
    Rosret
    10th Jan 2017
    8:07am
    Mick when someone in my family tripped over with this stupid government bungle he may have been knocked for a six, but trust me, I rose from being a day to day nice Mum to standing as an Eagle. I WILL protect my family.
    He isn't even a welfare recipient but because they messed up the link with his estranged wife's Tax return he was told to pay - when he had nothing left anyway.
    Do you know what else happened. He got up and recovered from this too, a little bruised but a more steely less trusting person. He is young - how do you think he will vote? How do you think this will affect his view of honesty and integrity and how to succeed in life.
    When you hurt the good guys, the loyal guys - the tables do turn.
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    12:59pm
    I see nothing wrong in the recovery policy per se. There would be few people who would disagree that those who have been overpaid or who deliberately rorted the welfare system should be made to repay the money.

    However, it seems to me that in this case, there appears to have been very little (if indeed any) testing done on the system before sending it 'live'. In one case reported, the difference in employer was between 'Sydney Uni' and 'Sydney University'. There is only ONE Sydney Uni/University! This type of discrepancy is common among data bases and clearly should have been identified and corrected before any letter sending was done. As they say: rubbish in equals rubbish out.

    The errors concerning the discrepancies between ATO figures and those reported to Centrelink by the claimant, would be easily fixed. Given that people are meant to keep their financial (tax) records for a minimum of 5 years (https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/income-and-deductions/in-detail/keeping-your-tax-records/) and that almost all people are required to complete a tax assessment every year, there would be few who could not produce the required documentation that would prove they were claiming welfare legitimately for the period in question. Case then closed.

    Of course having sent the letters there was then no increase in the capacity of existing staff to handle the predictable increase in web access, telephone calls or even requests for appointments at a Centrelink Office. So web access was denied (the site crashed), calls went unanswered and people could not make an appointment.

    So yes the recovery SYSTEM was/is flawed. Note the System is flawed NOT the policy itself. However, comments such as 'attacking the vulnerable' is nothing more than cynical, emotive headline grabbing politics. People who have been sent these letters, according to reports, are no longer claiming welfare and likely are not "disabled, have mental health issues, may have difficulties understanding complex language or quite simply, may be too scared to act for fear of being forced to pay back money they don't have" or they would likely still be on welfare.

    It is quite clear that the public service is no longer skilled in all things IT (My Health website, 2016 census, Centrelink website, come to mind as well as this current crisis) with that lack of skill set including the managerial skill of selecting external organisations to manage and implement the IT systems. And this despite the fancy salaries public servants are paid. Heads should roll in the IT section of the public service and new blood (perhaps from India or the Philippines - both with an excellent IT skilled workforce - usually Australian trained to boot) should be brought in to fix the mess that is apparently too hard for Australian to handle.
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    3:16pm
    The system is flawed and therefore should not have been used to send out these letters.
    If the taxation department is linked to Centrelink then manually - person by person phone calls should have gone out to the individual and the discrepancy should have been discussed.
    After a few phone calls they could have flagged some of the wrong assumptions in their war on people and they may then have saved themselves an awful lot more calls and heartache.
    This would have been easier on Centrelink staff and the individuals concerned.
    Instead - they are training the Centrelink staff in anger management and telling people to phone LifeLine.
    What a terrible solution to their mistake.
    Cautious
    9th Jan 2017
    1:00pm
    Did I read somewhere that 90% of recipients agreed they had been overpaid?
    I guess some of the remaining 10% were overpaid as well?
    That leaves a lot less than 10% explaining the discrepancy. I've written explanatory letters in the past and found the outcome to be fair.
    I also remember strong condemnation of governments for overpaid welfare.
    Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
    I think this is a reasonable basis for a "please explain" so I question the purpose of "all the fuss".
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:34pm
    Got a link? More likely 90% billed for over five years ago couldn't dig up the paperwork within a few days and were forced to the wall.... and The Good Colonel would not even sit down and go over the figures one by one, but sat back smoking a cigar and accepting willy-nilly figures of twelve month period thrown up by ATO/Colonel matching.
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    1:10pm
    I am glad you bought this topic up.
    There may be a few dole cheats out there. HOWEVER if you are usually knocking on Centrelink's door it is because you are at the lowest ebb in your life. These are the people, as a tax payer, I want to help and so does the rest of society.
    However, there is another group of people. Those who pay child maintenance.
    After being on suicide watch for a family member who lost the wife he loved, his home, a significant amount of paternal custody, all this home contents then to carry on with the STD -(sexually transmitted Debt i.e. maintenance). Even renting is not an option.
    Then just as he is getting on his feet the government decides to link the tax returns to Centrelink and sends him notification of a huge increase as his estranged wife had earned nothing (according to their details) for the last financial year.
    However, she had been working for the entire year and they sent the letter before the date ATO requires the tax returns to be submitted.
    Eleven emails to Centrelink later and a finally a phone call from his estranged wife to fix the issue and Centrelink conceded the error.
    However this was not before he was told to pay up or else he would be put on a bad debt list and he would never be able to buy his own home again.
    This was one month before Christmas when he wanted to buy his children Christmas gifts.
    I can't explain how SERIOUS this stupid stupid mistake on the government's part is.
    This isn't political argie bargie(excuse spelling) they are playing with the lives of those struggling to emotionally survive. TRUST ME. What an incredibly ill thought out plan. Where has the brains trust gone??
    Whoever thought of this plan maybe the bully who can kick the weak but I am strong and I will protect those temporarily wounded. So hear me well!
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:26pm
    I'm on your side there.... Power To the People....
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:11pm
    The solution is to establish an INDEPENDENT Ombudsman and resource this office with sufficient staff to properly investigate claimed problems. Problem solved.
    Cautious
    9th Jan 2017
    1:23pm
    I think another solution would be not to overpay in the first place.
    Let's put in adequate controls to stop it happening. Far cheaper than chasing back the money or an ombudsman and department to go with it.
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    1:31pm
    According to Change.org they told these people to ring Life line and a news report said the government was paying Centrelink staff to be trained in anger management.
    Can you imagine telling someone to ring Lifeline when THEY are the problem. OMG it's like saying to the emotionally vulnerable, "tell someone who cares!"
    Honestly, the Government has put Centrelink's staff at risk and they are just the messengers.
    Perhaps the Government needs to get an Ombudsman's email and phone number out to all the affected people before something does go seriously wrong.
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    1:34pm
    Cautious they haven't over paid. 20% of the claims are wrong!
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:43pm
    Mistakes happen Cautious. You are correct though that more care needed to be taken in the programming stage and this government just rushed this in to hit the bottom end as hard as it could. After all this government believes that the wealthy should have more outs than a pregnant nun and the rest should get tax increases to fund the lifestyle of the rich and well connected. That's why this government needs to go as soon as we can get them to the ballot box.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:30pm
    The rich would learn the rules and if in any doubt get it in writing before they did anything. Everyone should do this but many people don't bother. This is why the rich appear to be able to do things the ordinary person doesn't. Have you ever ask for something in writing before doing something? I have many times.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:32am
    Commonwealth Ombudsman is looking into this now - at the request of Andrew Wilkie.

    Let's see what come of that.......
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    7:04pm
    ah labor mick now we cover our faces, only terrorists, bandits, thieves, hold up persons, etc get to that state, any wonder nobody on this site take you for real, even the advertisement on your profile for funds to pay for your ski holidays says enough about your real intentions to have a cheap time on the backs of other people, as are the politicians running our country.
    East of Toowoomba
    9th Jan 2017
    1:22pm
    An interesting fact many people are missing is that this "fraud" is only being committed by Centrelink recipients who supplement their benefits with work, or who go find full time work in the same financial year that they were paid benefits. These people are only being paid benefits for a short period of time, or are only receiving a part payment and are therefore less likely to be cheats and most likely using Centrelink as a SAFETY NET until their circumstances improve.

    The worst cheats won't be caught in this data matching fiasco because they don't work at all, or they work for cash in hand or under another name.

    If the government want to implement this new system fairly then they need to tell everyone who receives any kind of support that it is just a loan and we'll run your data through the computer at the end of the financial year and if you earn any income while receiving benefits be aware it needs to be repaid. Then people can make the decision in advance to claim income support and pay it back (like a HECS debt), don't claim income support OR go onto income support for life and therefore never have the means to repay the debt.

    In the meantime I agree the system is flawed and they are going to waste many staff hours and lots of money either correcting the system or doing compliance checks in response to people challenging the debt.

    On the other hand a lot of people who don't retain pay slips and work diaries for life may have no other choice but to pay the debt as they won't have any evidence to support their case. That should provide a handy little income stream for a cash strapped government.
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:46pm
    The rich are top frauds in the nation East of Toowoomba. They have legal avenues for committing fraud on a monumental scale. And they are sacred cows to the current government which keeps talking about lowering corporate tax rates for the wealthy to 15%. And we have a Budget Emergency???? Actually no, we have a fraudulent government not working for the nation!
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    1:54pm
    Your ATO PAYG paperwork would give you the information your receive. Available form MyGov website.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    2:02pm
    Didn't exist five years ago.... ask the ATO for past tax returns etc and they will cry poor - "So solly - we no kee' tax return fro' so long ago."

    I was after proof of military service through tax records... so solly - no can do.... yet the claim is that the Guv keeps all records..... or is that only those that suit it?
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    2:06pm
    If the ATO hasn't got them then where did Centrelink get their information from?
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:27pm
    A very good question - ask the ATO and centrelink if they are making figures up...
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:55pm
    So - the data is there.. but the 'defendant' cannot access it since it now 'belongs' to the ATO ... so how is the 'defendant' to launch a fair defence within fourteen days? Told you before - this entire issue fails the test of 'natural justice' and is more in keeping with a despotic, tyrannical government - right or left irrelevant. It should fairly fail at the first minute in court on the single issue alone.
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    7:39pm
    But you can get copies of what the ATO holds by filling in a simple form

    https://www.ato.gov.au/Forms/Copies-of-tax-documents-request---individuals/
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:41am
    "You can use Copies of tax documents request form to request copies of tax returns, payment summaries (individuals only) and notices of assessment."

    These people NEED fortnightly summaries as submitted by employers so as to counter claims of 'over-payment' - not copies of tax returns or payment summaries or notices of assessment.

    If they want a tax return or summary or notice of assessment - they could just ask Centrelink! All those things do is play into the hands of Centrelink, which is now becoming not a service to the people, but an extension of an evil empire intent on ruining as many of those people as possible.

    Downe at Ye Olde Centrelinke Offyce:-

    "OK - you reckon I owe you! Here's my tax return!"

    "But that's what we used to work out you owe us."

    "Oh - sorry - but my return does state my time of employment."

    "Nah - sorry - we only look at the overall income figure now."

    Very Franz Kafka - I want to see the Lord in the castle!

    ..... you can't.

    Well, who do I see to get permission to see the Lord?

    The Lord.... who else? Nobody else can give permission.... sorry....

    That is the kind of VERY DANGEROUS insanity our government is descending into with this kind of thing - that process started with the advent of all these funny ideas of 'making everybody equal' by beating on some and offering bribes to others, and whatever was in the water they were drinking - has had its effect.
    KSS
    10th Jan 2017
    7:51am
    Trebor it is the responsibility of the tax payer to keep ALL records used for their tax returns for a period of not less than 5 years. This would include any documentation from Centrelink in any particular financial year as well as any employment documentation.

    Further given that for at least the last 10 years the majority of wages have been paid electronically and pay-slips mostly also delivered electronically, these would NOT be difficult to get in the vast majority of cases. And further, most wages/salaries have been paid directly into bank accounts for years and you can always obtain copies of bank statements to prove when and how you were paid. I will grant that this may take longer than 14 days but contact with Centrelink to tell then what you are doing to prove/disprove any over-payment would normally satisfy and allow more time for the documents to be obtained.

    You can turn yourself inside out with your posturing but the fact is, this documentation can be obtained relatively easily by anyone.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:38pm
    The issue is that countless people have been handed a bill from OVER five years ago...

    Apparently Colonel C'Link does NOT give extension of time for investigation - they demand you pay NOW and if and when you can prove them wrong, they might deign to refund you - like that'll happen.

    It is not my 'posturing' that is at issue here - it is the posturing of government and its agencies.
    CindyLou
    9th Jan 2017
    1:28pm
    This is just awful - what should have occurred is centrelink should have planned for people needing to discuss this issue - staff should have been available totally dedicated to these enquiries. To blindly send our such cruel letters without local office staff being available is shameful.
    Not a Bludger
    9th Jan 2017
    1:30pm
    Isn't it wonderful in The Lucky Country - even those who are getting money for nothing are moaning and groaning and grizzleing when asked to confirm that they are indeed eligible for this free (aka my taxes at work) money.

    They should be pleased to be able to demonstrate that they are NOT rorters of the system - although clearly many are.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    1:37pm
    Whatever's happening here - you missed it... read above.... plenty there to work with...
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    1:47pm
    Is it complaints about being quizzed or is it being asked to refund money for no valid reason. I'm not sure which it really is.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    2:03pm
    Something out of the ordinary must of triggered those letters in the first place.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:34pm
    Yes - averaging a relative short part of the year on forced social security over the entire twelve months of each year did it.

    $253 a week for three months (12 weeks) is $3036..... you no work at all..... then you get job for nine months and earn $1000 a week for remaining 39 weeks = $39000... you earn $42,036 for year = $808.38 a week and your didn't declare that to Centrelink!!!!

    Shock.. HORROR - you have ripped Centrelink off - here's your bill for $3036 plus penalties and watch out for the Feds knocking your door down to arrest you...

    That's how it's working, OG and Co - THAT is your something out of the ordinary.... Colonel C'Link moving the goal posts unilaterally and without notice to some new way of calculating.

    It's another way of saying your Unemployment Benefit is NOW ONLY A LOAN until you get work..... and is quite obviously the prelude to doing the same with pensioners.

    Am I the only one that can see that? Again - if so - I despair of you all, and The Australian Civil War is one day closer.....
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:41pm
    In the majority of cases this debt would be justified. No system is 100% perfect but it is a lot better than what they had before.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:57pm
    From what I read, In sincerely doubt that.... you've seen fifty times today alone where this approach is faulty.... and that casts every 'debt' into doubt until a proper resolution is provided.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    4:02pm
    Every invoice has some doubt about it and is only a invitation to accept the debt.

    Payment is acceptance of that debt.

    No different here.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    5:33pm
    Forced payment with no valid means of defence is not acceptance - it is merely surrender to force majeur, i.e in a situation where you cannot win - and in this context is proof positive of my assertion that this is an action of a despotic government, which is also desperate to seek some whipping boy on whom to heap responsibility for its own failings.

    Your education is proceeding, Grasshoppers.....
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    9:32pm
    Old Geezer, either you are incredibly sarcastic or a LNP troll as no one can be so stupid.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    12:26pm
    The nameless keyboard warriors took their stronger dose of hyperbole today. You are deluded if you think there will be an Australian civil war any time soon. The ageing keyboard warriors hide behind nom de plumes and will soon be waiting their turn in God's waiting room while the apathetic mindlessly go with the flow and the youngsters do not give a toss. If you want to make a difference become part of the politic, organise and influence your local electorates.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:40pm
    Then name yourself, Farsie... put your name on the list for 're-education'.. let us all know exactly who you are, O KeyBoard Warrior, so we can all worship your wisdom.

    Perhaps you could stick to the issues rather than proving your inadequacies by flinging empty words at others? Just a thought.....
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:33pm
    Please Trebor. Have a read of your contributions and you tell me to stick to the issues. It's been a trip today.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:32pm
    **throws down the Joker** .. something you're familiar with?

    I love it when you side-track and seek to change the focus to ad hominems....

    What IS your name - O Nameless One?
    cappy
    9th Jan 2017
    2:04pm
    I have worked all my life since I was 15... still working part time at 61..... received one of these letters last year in the middle of breast cancer treatment.... the extra anxiety & stress this caused was unbelievable... and eventually I received an email stating “no action needed” !!
    They should be ashamed of themselves....
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    2:57pm
    YES. - and I hope you are fighting strong now. :)
    libsareliars
    9th Jan 2017
    2:06pm
    What mongrels this lot are - you see the excess of the likes of Susan Ley and they go after the most vulnerable in our community. Vote them out next time.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    2:07pm
    So it's OK to defraud the taxpayer then?
    Triss
    9th Jan 2017
    2:54pm
    Old Geezer, try to be more sensible and logical before you post a comment. You know perfectly well that that was not what libsareliars meant.
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    3:03pm
    Old Geezer it is so much more complex than that. Those people who got a legitimately correct letter probably are not as upset as people emotionally wrecked as the 20% of recipients who were incorrectly sent letters. It wasn't as simple as a phone call and fixing it either. Those people were deemed guilty until they proved themselves to be correct.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:04pm
    Yes I stand by my comment.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:16pm
    Even if people are in the wrong don't you think people naturally want to blame someone else for their wrong doing so the gossip is completely wrong in most cases.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    12:34pm
    What is so hard for people to understand the facts of an argument and debate them on their merit. Just because some pollies are hypocrites and indulge in their own excesses does not means that welfare fraud should be condoned or turned a blind eye to. The logical fallacy played out day after day in these comments. It is not surprising why so many opinions are dismissed with derision rather than considered, despite them often having good points to make.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    1:16pm
    Who is condoning welfare fraud, Farside? The debate is about an error in the Centrelink computer program that is persecuting innocent people. Nothing to do with welfare fraud. The software wrongly takes the total annual income declared to the ATO, divides it by 26, and says ''Áha! Got ya! You couldn't possibly have been entitled to benefits from to because you earned $nnn every fortnight.'' No. Did not. The accused earned NOTHING in the months claimed for. Averaging annual income is WRONG. And in most cases Centrelink already has the correct data on file, with evidence, so nobody should be required to provide it again.

    The IDIOTS who created and implemented this software should be (a) stripped of their job and forced to pay back all the wages they took dishonestly; and (b) forced to compensate everyone who suffered because of their incompetence.

    It's got NOTHING to do with welfare fraud. It's you who obviously can't understand the facts and debate them on their merit.
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    3:55pm
    The number of people caught up in this would be a very small percentage indeed. Most would be legit and owe the government money.
    Farside
    10th Jan 2017
    5:47pm
    Rainey, welfare fraud occurs when someone receives and keeps a welfare payment to which they are not entitled. No doubt there are problems with the process however the core premise remains the income declared to Centrelink and ATO should be the same.

    If you receive a please explain then it should be a matter of simply working through the review with the case officer and have no requirement to repay anything if it is a mistake of employer details for instance.

    If it comes to the letter of demand for whatever reason and averaging has been applied then again, time to take a deep breath and work through the figures with Centrelink to explain why different to those declared to ATO.

    Keeping the money is what tips it into fraud.If money has been received and you are not entitled then it should be repaid immediately; this is no different to when an ATM spews cash or the bank mistakenly transfers cash into the incorrect account. What is to be gained by saying I will keep it until somebody asks for it?
    LiveItUp
    11th Jan 2017
    7:26am
    I'm hearing that they didvsend out please expalin letters and gave people a certain time to respond. A lot of people simply ignored them and are now shocked by receiving a bill.

    Sorry folks you were given a chnace to explain but ignored it at your peril.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    11:17am
    Yes, a lot of people didn't respond because they've moved in the interim and had no requirement to advise Centrelink, having been employed for years, so they didn't receive the letter. Hard not to ignore mail you never received!
    Reeper
    9th Jan 2017
    2:11pm
    Just to qualify Janran...yes the Federal Government is to blame - the ALP one which introduced the automated system a few years back.....
    MICK
    9th Jan 2017
    2:30pm
    Ha, ha, ha. ANd I suppose Susan Leigh was set up by Labor as well.
    Is there anything in the world that is actually not Labor's fault?
    What a troll.
    mIKER
    9th Jan 2017
    4:18pm
    So Reeper it has taken two terms of the LNP for the automated system introduced by Labor to cause this massive cock-up.

    The LNP changed the algorithms to collect more revenue, faster, and then launched huge staff cuts to "reduce red tape" that caused the lack of scrutiny of the mail-out, under the new rules.

    No one supports welfare fraud; but the plan to shore up the budget by targeting those on social security is particularly callous, especially as the LNP staunchly refuses to legislate to collect tax from the multi-nationals.

    In fact the ATO reports that company profits have soared but the vast majority now pay less tax via offshore havens, profit shifting etc. So mate you're entitled to your opinion, but get the facts right.
    Not Senile Yet!
    9th Jan 2017
    2:28pm
    The jails are full...let them come!
    It will cost more to extract payment from people who simply don't have anything anyway!
    What a bunch of Incompetant Inbeciles they are proving themselves to be!
    Take a survey now.....and see just how unpopular this Government is!
    Couldn't run a chook raffle!
    jamesmn
    9th Jan 2017
    2:40pm
    they should start with Susan ley the liberal health minister for fraud this is straight out dishonesty thinking she can get away with what she has done even on news year eve for the last 2 years she has to be sacked and let the authorities chase her for what she has to repay what is wrong with all of these liberal ministers do they think they are a law to themselves I wonder if she has declare the property she has just purchased on the gold coast she has to be SACKED straight away and repay all of the money she has stolen from the Australian taxpayers.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    2:42pm
    So she is not allowed some free time a day to do what she likes for herself?
    Sundays
    9th Jan 2017
    3:13pm
    Actually OG she is not allowed to manufacture several trips to the Gold Coast with her partner who has a business there and charge the taxpayer for the trips. Even she must know this which is why she is standing aside while being investigated. Her portfolio is Health and does not warrant Gold Coast specific trips! AND no one seriously believes that she spent $800k on a whim, an apartment she hadn't at least researched a little, and guess what, the auction was on when they were up there. How lucky was that!
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:18pm
    So you have never been to an auction and bought a property on a whim? Many wealthy people can pick a bargain and just buy.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:38pm
    So all politicians are wealthy? Bet most weren't that wealthy before they became politicians... anyone else see the flaw in this discussion?

    Political service to the nation and its people is NOT a self-enriching exercise and should never be. It is a duty and a privilege - not a right to rort.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:42pm
    Too many assumptions and not enough facts here.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    4:59pm
    Too many ASS-UMPTIONS that just because she's an LNP politician and not a battler on welfare she must be right, and all the battlers on welfare are automatically wrong.

    You are SICK, OG.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:02pm
    Yes I am sick of being right all the time.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:07pm
    Only a deluded narcisst thinks they are right all the time, OG. You've betrayed yourself completely. We all knew you were nasty. Now we know you fit the NPD profile perfectly.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:43pm
    Well what is the saying. I takes one to know one I think it goes.

    Just because I say what you don't want to hear you think it is OK to abuse me. If you think that by abusing me Rainey I will go away then think again. In fact it makes me even more determined to state my point of view.

    So far you have done nothing but whinge about the governments actions on mythical people but have given no constructive ways they could solve it's welfare problems.
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    9:47pm
    Old Geezer is definitely a LNP troll or pretty stupid.

    If you are sick of being right all the time try shifting towards the centre, but you will have to use more factual information for the shift to happen.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    10:51am
    OG can't read, obviously. I have given constructive ways to solve welfare problems. Simple. STOP BASHING THE RESPONSIBLE HARD WORKING BATTLERS AND PUNISHING ENDEAVOUR.

    Stop creating a welfare mentality by punishing effort and planning. Let people have some dignity and self-respect and quantifiable rewards for trying to be self-sufficient, instead of this vile and disgusting abuse of anyone who needs a hand up.

    Stop making our social security system a ''welfare'' system that feeds crumbs to the desperate and the no-hopers and tramples on anyone who works and lives sensibly but can't earn enough - because of exploitation and unfairness - to withstand economic turmoil and government mismanagement and remain self-sufficient despite their world being turned upside down.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:43pm
    Take the entire retirement packaging system - pension, superannuation and the Futures Fund stashed in the Caymans - put it all in one place outside the control of politicians - and elect a board to run it. That includes the politician's preferential 'superannuation' - which will have the same rules applied to it as everyone else - if there is an 'assets test' - it functions equally for all.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    2:45pm
    Anyone else noticed that those who whinge the most are usually wrong?
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    3:39pm
    No - I perpetually complain and am always right.... and occasionally a little more penetrating in my inquisitorial style than most, and see some clear and present danger possibilities behind the actions of corrupt government - which in this country is all of them.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    4:57pm
    Actually, they are almost always RIGHT, OG. If they weren't, they'd keep as quite as possible and not draw attention to themselves that might result in closer inspection. Those who whinge do so because they can PROVE they are right and they are DAMNED ANGRY at the cost and stress of having to correct the errors of overpaid incompetents.

    When will the government start sending debt notices to the idiots who rip off the taxpayer implementing and managing systems that fail and impose massive cost to facilitate remedies of errors? Bash the poor pensioners, but let the overpaid incompetents keep imposing massive cost with their stuff ups.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:04pm
    Rainey you only have to watch shows like a Current Affair to realise what you are saying is rubbish.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    6:13pm
    ACA/TT? You have got to be kidding me, OG - I was the subject of an ambush interview many years ago by TT over some issue they and a few others dreamed up.

    Told this one before, quite openly. I said "Sorry - can't comment' etc over and over - made the mistake of saying "yes" to one question after twenty minutes - AND THEY DUBBED THAT yes ON ANOTHER QUESTION! I can prove that - a long term friend is a film sound technician.....

    When offered, on legal advice, the opportunity to view papers that would refute their position - THEY DIDN'T EVEN BOTHER TO REPLY.

    Stinking cowards and blatant liars all, and there is a good reason they are called "The Gutter Press", and are only worth looking at for a laugh.
    Charlie
    9th Jan 2017
    2:51pm
    Another Centrelink stuff up. It missed me this time, but I notice they paid my pension a week early.
    Imagine my surprize when my NAB bank transaction statment showed my pension money being paid on the regular day it was due, a week after the money actually appeared in my account. Also that I was supposed to have made withdrawls in arrears. Time to go to another bank I think.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:03pm
    Money usually appears in your bank account in a pending mode and with all the holidays it will stay pending until the next business day. It would not matter which bank you used some thing would happen.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:09pm
    Just been told that Centrelink credited accounts on 22nd December so people could have money over Christmas but it now shows the date it went in as 28th December.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:45am
    My pension day is the old DVA one, so 22nd....
    Snowflake
    9th Jan 2017
    3:29pm
    I got paid and saved. Bought a house. $10000 for stamp duty. Not bad for five minutes work on the governments part. Yes, I know it's State government. Now, my pay was taxed and I bought some petrol. Then paid some tax on that. Went to the dentist and was totally ripped off but paid my tax. In fact I paid so much tax that I didn't actually make any money for myself.until about April of that year.
    You smug bastards who think I am not entitled to a pension can go and love yourselves. It started as an entitlement and because that toad Morrison says it's welfare means nothing. Just government spin. I have never been a political person but in the last few years I have become totally anti government. They are not accountable for the incredible waste of tax payers money. If they were this country would be fine.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:33pm
    Yes it is good to see they are trimming down the waste.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    4:53pm
    OG is too dumb to understand what you are saying, Snowflake, but you are right.

    They are WASTING the taxpayers money by ripping off and punishing workers and savers, creating a welfare mentality because those who don't bother to strive receive pensions without any fear of debt letters.

    Sad that some are actually dumb enough to believe the government's lies about ''trimming down the waste''. No OG. They are driving it UP. They are killing initiative, endeavour, responsible planning, and money circulation that drives jobs, profits and tax revenue.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:01pm
    With a comment like that one Rainey how can I be anything but right?
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:06pm
    What you are is totally deluded, Old Fool.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:16pm
    I might be old but certainly no fool so please keep you envy to yourself.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    10:59am
    I could never envy an arsehole narcissist who can't make an intelligent remark, OG.
    Sallad
    9th Jan 2017
    3:54pm
    Great expose Debbie. Whilst I have no sympathy for welfare fraudsters, I feel very very strongly for the innocent people who are being made to feel guilty by a flawed system, & inexperienced / untrained staff that do not understand the 'income assessment' differences between the ATO and Centrelink. My suggestion to an aged pensioner whose pension was cancelled just before Christmas AND hit with an $81,000 overpayment (I saw the letter and couldnt believe it) was 1. Appeal quite strongly against the decision & 2. Ask the Centrelink decision maker for a WRITTEN explanation detailing their overpayment calculations. After several days of phone calls etc they discovered that there was NO DEBT whatsoever and she got her pension reinstated with an 'apology letter of sorts'. If anyone feels strongly against the flawed system being used there is a petition going round that I have signed as well. See: https://www.getup.org.au/end-unfair-debt-collection?t=N5e4LixZY&utm_content=16459&utm_campaign=Something_stinks_at_Centrelink_&utm_source=blast&utm_medium=email
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    3:57pm
    Just another beat up by Getup.
    tatsuo
    10th Jan 2017
    1:59am
    I'm volunteering to work with GetUp in a bid to have Unchristian Porter defeated at the next election. We got rid of a couple of far right politicians last election, it's time this swamp was drained and more of these asshats hung out to dry.
    Rodent
    9th Jan 2017
    4:40pm
    Old Geezer

    OMG your colors are really showing now you are a Centrelink Expert- I don't think. You really should check your facts before posting anything, and when you are corrected by Facts- just accept that YOU were wrong ,but that's not you is it, you are never wrong!!
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:00pm
    Yes I am always right and everyone else is wrong.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:42pm
    Forgive him, Rodent. He suffers a terrible affliction called ''narcissistic personality disorder''. He has voices in his head filling his brain with all sorts of BS and the only reliable function his brain is capable of is repeating over and over that he is always right and everyone else is always wrong. It's really a terrible disease. It makes sufferers very nasty indeed, wishing hurt on everyone, and having a totally misplaced sense of absolute superiority - a God complex, some folk call it.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:46pm
    Ha ha Rainey you are certainly upping the ante to get rid of me simply because you know I am right but don't like what I have to say.
    There is nothing to forgive.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:53pm
    Because you are WRONG, OG, and you are incapable of reason, logic, sensible debate, or ever considering anyone else's point of view. You are also cruel, nasty, hateful, and intent on supporting anything that causes hurt and denies fairness.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:58pm
    Gee I didn't think you were than envious of me to use all those nasty words!
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    6:16pm
    Heeeey! I'M always right! But I support my views with links and reason...... I don't just beat my old and hairless chest over 'dole bludgers ruinin' the country'.

    BTW when is Shorten going to come out and state categorically that Pensions and Unemployment Benefits are a right?
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    6:27pm
    Never!
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    7:08pm
    Of course not! They're all in the same bed - and it ain't made for the peasants..... why would a prospective future government throw away an unpopular rip-off of the common herd, when it brings in enough of the lovely to support its desperate need to force equality by equal numbers on us ONLY in the best occupations?

    If equality by numbers was really the go, there should be 51% ditch diggers who are women etc.... around 21% reduction in school teachers and public servants.... but of course - equality doesn't mean you send the girls out in the hot sun to sweat like pigs... ONLY in the comfy jobs....
    tatsuo
    10th Jan 2017
    2:01am
    I suggest we stop feeding the trolls, it only encourages them.
    Rodent
    9th Jan 2017
    4:47pm
    OG

    Next you will be telling, anybody that may listen? that Michael Griffin's account of what happened to him is false or simply didn't happen, or the points he is making are wrong- whgy because YOU now all about everything.

    You can read about it at the Guardian - under This is what happened when Centrelink called to review my false Debt accusation
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:09pm
    Yes Mick I take very little of one sided stories as one knows that the other side has a completely different story to tell.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    1:06pm
    What he means, Mick, is that he's incapable of seeing any side of any story that doesn't agree perfectly with his wildly prejudiced prior ASSUMPTIONS.

    9th Jan 2017
    5:20pm
    When a relative was UNDERPAID by $87,000 because C/link ''forgot to respond to her application and forgot to pay her'' and the poor old confused dear assumed she wasn't entitled and just lived off her family for 7 years, nobody imposed a 10% penalty on C/link and nobody docked the overpaid inept employees who made the error. No interest was paid on the late payment, and no compensation for the 100 hours of work the daughter did to finally get the error sorted.

    Why is everyone so quick to bash the battlers but the privileged get away with stuffing up lives and families and the economy and pay no penalty at all?
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:24pm
    Sounds like fiction to me Rainey.
    Anonymous
    9th Jan 2017
    5:51pm
    Except I have the documents to prove it OG. I can also prove conclusively that when the payment was received, it was incorrectly taxed. It took 14 months and over 80 hours, $2000 to accountants, and 200 pages of printing to file 7 years' back tax returns and then appeal three times, including appealing to the Ombudsman and the local Fed member, before an senior ATO official who was just about to advise the appeal declined with no further recourse (except to go to court!) realized the ATO computer had been programmed incorrectly and wasn't factoring in a major regulation. He phoned and said he had to redo the whole calculation manually and what do you know... the appeal was granted and the refund paid.

    Of course OG who is never wrong and who lives in a perfect world will try to deny these things happen, but they happen frequently, and instead of bashing the victims of government stuff-ups, we should be holding the people who make the errors to proper account. If the government dealt fairly with ALL who get it wrong, maybe those who Centrelink are badgering would be less inclined to complain.

    BTW. OG, if you are right and Centrelink is not stuffing up, why is Ombudsman instigating an inquiry? And note it's NOT in response to a complaint. It's on the Ombudsman's Office's own initiative. That pretty much proves there's a problem.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    6:00pm
    Gee you were lucky then Rainey as being 7 years it would have been outside the statute of limitations of a debt.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    6:01pm
    Yes Rainey the Ombudsman conducts inquiries all the time most of which we never hear anything about.
    sunnyOz
    9th Jan 2017
    7:32pm
    Rainey - I am relatively new member here, and already shocked at the insensitive, egotistical and often completely WRONG comments by one person in particular, and disgusted with his response to your comment. Believe me, I know exactly what you mean. My elderly aunt and uncle - ex share farmers so no huge money when they did leave the land - were subjected to the most disgusting cruel behavior by Centrelink (at that time called Dept of Social Security), some years ago. Having no children, in their late 70's, and being very naive and ignorant to the ways of big business (read that Govt also), I absolutely swear that Centrelink saw them as an easy target and subjected them to most appalling emotional stress. Lost letters, misplaced files, down right lies, phone calls that never eventuated. And the more you complain, the more they ostracize and target you. They were like Insurance Company's - deny everything, offer nothing, and hope they will go away. Whilst my aunt & uncle nearly gave in, and nearly gave up, I helped them fight for their rights, and I swear that the stress and worry led my uncle to an early grave.
    What I saw and experienced - appalled and sickened me, and I prayed then that I would never have to deal with Soc Security if I could avoid it.
    So OG - you are NOT right all the time. Just because YOU don't agree with something does not mean someone else is wrong, or lying. Oh how tiring and boring it must be to be so perfectly right all the time!!
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    7:49pm
    Perhaps if the $87000 debt you claim was owed to your relative Rainey had been handed to a debt collection agency, the 10% debt collection fee would have been added.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    9:58pm
    I'm just astounded that no one did anything for 7 years as that only happens I the world of fiction.
    tatsuo
    10th Jan 2017
    2:07am
    Rainey, that case sounds like someone needs to pay for the cockup.
    It is possible to claim compensation from the Federal government, have a look at:
    Compensation for defective government administration (Commonwealth)
    http://www.lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/ch09s01s06.php
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    11:03am
    Thanks Tatsuo. A claim was made and some compensation was paid - not nearly enough, but the victim died and it just got too hard for the executors to pursue further. Dealing with government is a nightmare!
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    5:34pm
    One guarantee of a free society is a free exchange of information.
    - John Fitzgerald Kennedy.


    So now we see the picture entire for the drinking.

    First Colonel C'link unliterally creates a new set of rules by which it alone wishes to operate, without any notice to its customers or any announcement in any way, i.e. rather than looking at income over the accepted for many years (and possibly statutory) period of two weeks, one two week period at a time - the Good Colonel now wishes to view the entire earnings of any of its customers over the full twelve months financial year – and then wishes to re-calculate their Entitlements under Social Security.

    In order to achieve this end, they take the tax information willingly and freely lodged with the Australian Tax Office for a full year's earnings, under their 'new' data matching system.

    Then, without notice, they re-calculate any person's annual earnings and determine that this individual averaged a certain amount of income over that twelve months – rather than viewing (as above) their income received over each two week period whilst in receipt of Social Security payments.

    Their letters of demand offer two weeks in which to resolve the matter or face further action, including a 'collection fee' of 10%, and possible criminal action, as well as suspension or force re-payment from current benefits.

    The Good Colonel refuses to allow discussion or even a viewing of the affected individual's personal reporting record, or even to accept that a mistake may have been made, and that there is a chance of resolution by a proper audit.

    They do this to countless thousands just before Christmas, meaning that the individuals concerned have little to no chance of even beginning to collect their wits, let alone their information needed to correctly resolve this situation.

    On top of that, it is not possible for the affected individual(s) to gather their OWN INFORMATION lodged with the ATO, by their employer(s) in accordance with law, every pay period. The ATO will say that is protected information under the Privacy Act or whatever, and it is now the property of the ATO and NOT that individual.

    Thus the affected individual is left with no possible avenue of mounting a defence – unless they are fortunate enough to retain all their pay slips in an orderly fashion (who does that these days? People rely on their employer to keep correct records and on the ATO AND Centrelink to deal with them properly.

    The affected individual MAY lodge a 'Freedom of Information' claim with the ATO – OR take the matter of access to personal information to the appropriate court... but either of these actions will NOT occur BEFORE the time limit demanded by Colonel Clink has expired – meaning the person will be stung with a 'debt' they have had no means of defending, plus costs, plus interest, and will have no choice but to pay or suffer sanction by a court of law and pursuit by bill collectors.

    As I said – this entire issue should fall at the first minute in a court hearing, since it has no remote association with Natural Justice.

    This approach – of Colonel Clink arbitrarily positing that income will now be looked at over a full financial year, and even beyond, means that Centrelink, under direct orders from this government, is arbitrarily and unilaterally decreeing, without recourse to historical usage, regulation or possibly law, that SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOW A LOAN, that must be repaid on demand. I have every expectation that this is the thin edge of the wedge to forcing on the public the concept that an Age Pension is now also a 'loan' due upon death.



    (Copy forwarded to Andrew Wilkie – thank you, Colonel, for your actions)...
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    7:55pm
    Trebor you might like to take a look at this form by which anyone can ask for copies of all tax returns held by the ATO. It is not a difficult form to fill in and does not say you cannot have what ever years; document you require.

    https://www.ato.gov.au/Forms/Copies-of-tax-documents-request---individuals/

    Freedom of Information NOT require and no fee to pay.
    inextratime
    9th Jan 2017
    5:34pm
    What has happened about all the fine defaulters ?
    Last report I heard there were millions in unpaid fines...do these people get the same treatment ? Also if the illicit drug industry is worth billions (and it is) what is being done to wipe that industry out ? Then there is the cash industry, pay by cash, no gst. All too hard for pollies, lets hit the the easy targets, might have to work for our lifelong pensions and gold passes.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    5:49pm
    Hmm - most fines are State issues....

    Retaining and maintaining the drug industries is part and parcel of social control - while ever there is a boogey man out there of some kind - whether it be dole bludgers or drug pushers - the government retains the right to oppress us all equally.....

    As I've outlined before - the 'cash industry' is a furphy, since the handing over of cash is only one step removed from the taxation process. The moment any dollar is spent it re-enters the tax system and is on its merry way back to Canberra, and is not 'lost revenue' UNLESS it is off-shored or hidden in non-taxable assets.

    The same argument could be applied to Social Security - which essentially has a net cost to the taxation system of ZERO.... EVERY cent is returned to the taxation system and most of it from Day One, and is thus not by any stretch of imagination a 'loss of revenue'. It is EQUAL cost/revenue. What IS a loss of revenue is paying someone else to build our submarines and our train carriages, and allowing countless corporations and individuals - including some of our own politicians - to off-shore their financial arrangements without taxing them on exit, and allowing countless individuals and companies to 'park' money (black or not) in non-tax paying areas such as investment housing.
    inextratime
    9th Jan 2017
    5:37pm
    Old Geezer,

    You're part of the fiction around here.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    5:42pm
    The intellectual beggars are some of the scenery.....
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    5:47pm
    Yes everyone hides behind a false name tag.
    TREBOR
    9th Jan 2017
    5:50pm
    By force of circumstances....
    inextratime
    9th Jan 2017
    5:47pm
    OG

    I meant Friction.

    Fiction friction
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    10:08pm
    I think that you were right the first time.

    OG is definitely hiding behind his tag, maybe he's a LNP troll.
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    7:10pm
    And while this is happening government ministers are claiming travel allowance to go to Malcolm Turnbull's new years party!
    KSS
    9th Jan 2017
    7:57pm
    Well no they aren't. They are using it to spend the New Year's Eve on the Gold Coast two years ago (2013 and 2014).
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:53am
    .. on portfolio business (Health) meaning they had to party with a Party crony who got the word from inside and set up one of the employment services providers, and then reaped the government funding that went into that 'out-sourcing'.

    That particular approach to employment services has been lambasted as useless for years, and its only benefit it in profiting its principals - all party cronies, same as childcare was at the outset.

    Now WTF need does a Health Minister to discuss anything with an employment services provider for? Finding jobs for nurses?

    Those to I'd love to see on the stand at ICAC.... see how they'd go then with their flimsy story line...

    9th Jan 2017
    7:39pm
    here is why we don't need friday's funnies, just read the comments in this column, charley is upset because he got paid a week early over Christmas and New Year, love to have seen his comments if he/she had been paid on the correct date, trebor's attemps to take over labor mick's position in his replies in these columns, labor mick's holidays must be close, as for raineys attempted so called intelligent statements, is it any wonder this once beautiful country is on a downwards trend, sunday still has not discovered a week has seven days and as for rodent, what more can one say, just read their comments and have a good laugh and hope Australia don't vote for these clowns.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    7:47pm
    I agree who needs Friday's funnies.
    P$cript
    9th Jan 2017
    10:14pm
    OG should be Old Grumpy
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    12:58am
    Ahh.. heemie, mah man! I was going to ask when you'd show up.

    Can't handle facts, eh? Well - just consider when you read my posts that I'm not offering them to you - I need people with nous who can understand simple realities.... got no time for those who use the name of a park from the inbred segment of Tasmania....

    Is there... by some remote chance... any comment of substance... any referenced material... any source that you can quote.. that actually contributes to this discussion?

    http://www.bonzle.com/c/a?a=p&p=59214&cmd=sp

    T'was the name of Abel Tasman's ship..... Heemskerk..... but spelling.. well... we'll overlook that....
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    1:08am
    No valid comment on the issue?

    I thought not... thanks for coming, but we don't need your comments... but you could try reading the tale below.... that might wake you and some of the clowns you vote for up....

    You've been owned, Mistah - now go away until you can comment above pre-school level on issues raised.
    tatsuo
    9th Jan 2017
    8:41pm
    As yet another person affected by this debacle, I’d like to know how to obtain payslips for the periods I didn’t work at my temp job back in 2010/2011.
    In fact I’ve never received a payslip for periods I didn’t work. I have all my bank statements from the period and these show when and how much (net) I was paid. These figures line up perfectly with what I declared to Centrelink fortnightly, as required. Yet I have been told by Centrelink staff that I need to obtain and produce payslips for the period, otherwise I will be indebted to them for $3,414 plus 10%. Something here stinks really, really bad. I’m hoping the review into this fiasco announced today by the Federal Ombudsman gets this sorted out before Centrelink starts deducting my erroneous debt from my pension.
    If Centrelink are certain I received benefits I am not entitled to (I didn't), then I challenge them to refer my case to the Federal DPP.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    9:52pm
    I'd be approaching Centrelink for evidence of this. Also that time period is close to and maybe outside depending upon exact date the statute of limitation debt.

    If you are sure you didn't work what about an affidavit?
    Rosret
    9th Jan 2017
    10:47pm
    Has this temp job produced a group certificate? How can Centrelink claim something without its own documentary trail?
    Old Geezer
    9th Jan 2017
    11:06pm
    My MyGov ATO account shows my tax assessment statements back to 2010-11.

    Maybe there is something in your mygov ATO account to help you.
    Sallad
    10th Jan 2017
    2:28am
    Hi Tatsuo. Have you attempted to contact your former employer to obtain the gross wages during that period? The experienced Centrelink staff usually did this where there was any doubt. I cannot understand this new procedure of the current regime.
    You should lodge an appeal with the AAT (Administrative Appeals tribunal) which is the highest tier in the CL appeal process. In your appeal you should ask the department to provide you with WRITTEN details of their calculations. The AAT will insist on this information.
    I personally know of 6 cases where the AAT have thrown out overpayments, ruling in favour of the appellants. Its a bit of a hassle 'time wise' as they could take a few months .... but fully worth it if you are totally innocent of any wrong doing. It doesnt cost you anything ... but by jove it costs the department heaps.
    The funny thing is that 2 of those cases had approached Tudge and Porter (wonder why they need 2 Ministers to look after Social Security matters ..... what a waste of taxpayers money) and were rudely told that they had to pay back the so called debts.
    The AAT looked at the proven facts and ruled in favour of the appellants.
    These overpayments by the way were raised several months ago long before the current system debacle.
    KSS
    10th Jan 2017
    8:12am
    tatsuo, pay slips are NEVER provided for periods of unemployment. No work = no pay = no payslip!

    I suggest you contact the organisations (if employed direct) or the agencies who placed you and have them compile a list of the exact dates when you were employed and paid. They could also include a statement that you were engaged as a temp and that there were periods of unemployment (list those dates exactly). And since you were paid by EFT you would also be able to ask for copies of your payslips for that 9 month period in question. Given these would be part of the business financial records, the agencies would have to keep them for a minimum 7 years (as opposed to the individual only keeping them for 5 years).

    Rosret yes ALL temp agencies give you a group certificate each financial year you worked with them. It can be you have several different group certificates for a given financial year because you work as a temp through several different agencies - or even directly with an organisation.

    The fact is people always think their own situation makes them a 'special case' when in fact they are really no different to anyone else.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    10:53am
    Oh really, KSS? How ignorant you are! I suggest you stop posting until you've undertaken some basic education in the realities of life, because you couldn't be more wrong in your last sentence.
    tatsuo
    10th Jan 2017
    11:32am
    Thanks for the information guys. I have already approached the agency I worked for, asking them to supply information on gross wages and dates I was employed (and not employed) during this period, I'm expecting this in the next 7 days. It seems like a duplication of effort, all this information was supplied (declared) to Centrelink fortnightly for the entire period. As the temp job was on and off, Centrelink kept me on the books so I needed to report fortnightly whether income was earned or not. Centrelink already have this data, I walked the ARO through it when she was explaining the basis of the supposed debt and she could see that dates and figures I had declared. It just seems someone intelligent is needed to sort this mess out for them.
    For everyone's edification Hank Jongen is NOT the DHS general manager, I think Hank has delusions of grandeur. His role in DHS is "Departmental Spokesperson" he's the PR guy. It's not hard to get an org chart for SENIOR EXECUTIVE STRUCTURE - DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    4:24pm
    So if I am reading this right and I get my dividends only in 2 months of the year I should be on welfare for the rest of the year. During those 2 months I don't get anything but get paid welfare for the other 10 months. Think I might just investigate this as I might just be owed 10 years welfare money.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    9:02am
    You choose not be an ordinary employee reliant solely on wages, OG. That's YOUR choice. Employees are entitled to relief when they are unable, through no fault of their own, to earn a living - even if it's only for a short period in a year. That's the law.

    The same benefit does NOT apply to the self-employed or to investors, for reasons that SHOULD be obvious. They can often manipulate when income is received and expenses are paid, and it's difficult to allocate net income to specific periods within the year.

    I know of a case where a fellow was employed for 7 months of every year and stood down for 5 months, but he salary was calculated such that although he received it over the 7 months he worked, it was intended to pay him for 12 months and he signed a contract not to accept other work during the 5 months he was off, because he was still technically employed. Centrelink refused - quite correctly - to pay benefits for the 5 months he was stood down.
    LiveItUp
    11th Jan 2017
    9:07am
    Rubbish Rainey even if the company went broke he would have bee a secured creditor and got pay at least some if not all of the 5 months left on his contract.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    11:13am
    Obviously you can't read, Bonny. Nobody said he wasn't paid for the 5 months. What I said was he received the pay over 7 months. It was contractually stated that he was employed for 12 months and he was to be paid 1/7th of his annual salary at the end of each of the 7 months he worked, and be stood down for 5 months. Centrelink correctly deemed he was paid every month, because that's what the employment contract stated. When he actually received the cash was not relevant.
    tatsuo
    9th Jan 2017
    11:06pm
    There is no dispute over "the alleged 10% recovery fee". It is a fact!
    I have a letter from Centrelink stating the fact. I wish I could attach a screen dump of this letter. Unchristian Porter may not be aware of this fact, he is obviously out of touch with reality. I for one will volunteer to work with GetUp in ensuring this sad excuse for a human being isn't re-elected.
    tatsuo
    9th Jan 2017
    11:29pm
    Rosret, yes the temp job produced a group certificate. It is this information from the ATO that was used for data matching. The group certificate shows I worked between the start date (7 October 2010) and the end of June 2011, it doesn't indicate the weeks/months during this period when I my skills weren't required and I earned nothing (which is when I was rightly paid Newstart allowance). Centrelink were made aware on a fortnightly basis of my earnings during the previous two weeks (even if there was none), I accurately and honestly declared my earnings. If Centrelink care to look, they already have the income declarations I made every fortnight (as do I) and it is plain to see there were periods of weeks/months when I was unemployed during this period and benefit was rightly payable.
    The debacle here is the averaging of income fortnightly, it is a very flawed methodology when applied to persons who didn't work the entire year.
    OG, I am prepared to have an affidavit drawn up, supported by the information I already declared to Centrelink fortnightly and my bank statements for the period which clearly show when earned income was paid (weekly) and when it wasn't. As I've said before, this isn't rocket science. Centrelink need to change the algorithm OR have cases of suspected debt reviewed by a human being prior to further action being taken.
    tatsuo
    9th Jan 2017
    11:41pm
    OG, I will have a look at the ATO side of mygov but I doubt there is much of value to be seen there. I earned the income, I paid tax on it weekly (well for those weeks I worked that is) and was assessed on it. I declared that income to Centrelink each fortnight and was paid Newstart for periods when I didn't work and therefore had no earned income. All this is pretty straight forward. The problem is that when this debacle of a computer program used by Centrelink decided to average my fortnightly income, it wrongly assumes that amount of income was earned EVERY fortnight, when in fact it wasn't, there were many single weeks and a two month period were I was unemployed and rightly claimed, and was paid Newstart allowance. Fix the program or give it human oversight and the erroneous debts will (in the main) disappear.
    Rosret
    10th Jan 2017
    8:16am
    Tatsuo - what a mammoth effort on your part. Thank heavens you are intelligent. Imagine how hard this would be for a lesser person than yourself.
    Gordon ans Slater lawyers - time to get a joint action going. That will quell this government initiative. Money talks.
    tatsuo
    10th Jan 2017
    9:11am
    Rosret, thank you for your kind words. I am meticulous and have enough evidence to ensure my alleged debt will be canceled soon. Even so, this whole fiasco has been unsettling and causing lost sleep. I'm convinced Unchristian Porter has his figures upside down and it's actually 80% of letters are sent out to people who don't owe a cent (as per Centrelink whistleblower last week). I can't imagine how many of these will handle the accusations of debt and the heavy handed approach of the debt collectors, I'm sure many who can least afford it will pay out of fear, I suspect top layer public servants and neoliberal politicians know this but don't care less.

    Class action anyone? As reported in this morning's media:
    "The Australian Lawyers Alliance told The Guardian there was a possibility people targeted with inaccurate debts could sue Centrelink."
    BillF2
    10th Jan 2017
    1:05am
    The three main aims of government, political parties and politicians are power, wealth and control. In the past, under totalitarian regimes, control was by the military and the secret police. In Australia today, control is economic, and enforced by the ATO and Centrelink. You are led to believe you live in a democratic society (the best country in the world, etc.), but democracy is the one element missing. In spite of, or maybe because of, compulsory voting, very little changes at a state or federal election. The same old faces, the same old snouts get returned to their very lucrative positions, remuneration for which they have determined themselves, but which the ordinary Australian is expected to pay for.
    Centrelink's role is to gather as much personal data as possible, to control economically all those without other means of income, and to re-distribute wealth, so that it becomes almost impossible for all except the richest to exist without some form of support from the government. The campaign against fraud is a red herring, designed to instill fear into welfare recipients, regardless of whether they have done anything wrong or not. It is intended to 'wrong foot' all those caught in the system. It is a 'Big Brother' technique to maintain control. Centrelink has so many rules and regulations, and is so disorganised, it cannot tell who has been 'rorting' the system. If it could, it would go straight to those people. Therefore, it uses the scattergun approach in the hope that it can recover some money for an economically inept federal government.
    Do not expect politicians to rectify the situation. They are the cause of it in the first place, and while they live very well at our expense, they will do nothing but pontificate.
    PIXAPD
    10th Jan 2017
    8:16am
    If you have done nothing, you're ok, if you have deceived, you're in deep shit.
    tatsuo
    10th Jan 2017
    9:17am
    Do nothing and the debt collectors turn up.
    The people really rorting social security will likely never be caught, they aren't likely to be declaring income so this current debacle will never affect them.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    8:33am
    Guilty until proved innocent though. And if innocence is difficult to prove for some reason - maybe because six+ year old records have been lost or damaged in a flood or fire - tough luck, buster. You go down! Never mind that in many cases Centrelink HAS THE EVIDENCE to substantiate the claim in its files.
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:38pm
    I had my tax stuff in a box in the spare room - went to get it and rats had eaten it and nested in it... now I keep it on computer and storage.
    PIXAPD
    10th Jan 2017
    8:18am
    NONE of this is a reason to suicide, self murder is great sin.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    10:37am
    And you are VERY fortunate not to have ever experienced, or had a loved one experience, sufficient pain and suffering that they want to end their life regardless of it being a great sin, Pixapd.

    Having two loved ones - both devout Christians - suicide, having suffered acute depression, and having close relationships with someone whose life has been an unbelievable torment due to losing in the lottery of birth and being persecuted by stinking arrogant government officials who have no empathy or compassion, I know what it feels like when you think there is no hope and no relief and injustice and idiot's errors will continue to make life a misery forever.

    You have no idea what other crisis or trauma these people were struggling with when C/link sent the ''straw that broke the camel's back'' - and yes, maybe they SHOULD just prove their innocence, but before you assume it's easy or condemn them for some imagined failing, go ask them exactly what their story is. You just might learn something.

    A little compassion wouldn't go astray, Pixapd, instead of your 'holier than though' arrogance.
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    3:11pm
    I just wish they would make it easier for people to depart this world if they have had enough. I've seen some gruesome results that could have been avoided if people had the right tools and knowledge.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    11:07pm
    We have the Right Tools - they're running the show..... (snuckles)...
    PIXAPD
    11th Jan 2017
    12:13pm
    NO depression, mental problems or suicide for those who trust the Lord Yeshua, NONE of these
    Anonymous
    15th Jan 2017
    9:55am
    CRAP, Pixapd. That's the biggest load of BS ever spoken.

    10th Jan 2017
    10:00am
    So a former very senior person previously involved in setting up the flawed C/link system - someone appointed personally by Malcolm Turnbull - has now come out and said if C/link was a private company it would be shut down for fraud.

    Amazing how those with prejudicial views on everything can justify anything - as long as it doesn't hurt them personally.

    Just try to communicate with C/link some time to prove anything! It can be damned near impossible. I've dealt with people who stood in queues at a C/link office all day every day for 3 days and weren't seen; called over 100 times and were just put on hold for hours; uploaded documents to the website and written 6 months later asking why they weren't acted on, only to be told that C/link staff were 18 months behind processing certain types of submissions.

    If people would stop making wild assumptions and trading on their own or their neighbour's personal experience only and start examining the FACTS, nobody would defend C/link on this, because the FACTS say their system has a major flaw in it. It is averaging income over 26 fortnights instead of looking at individual periods. Now, some might say income should be averaged over 26 fortnights. Some might say it should be averaged over years. But the fact is that it isn't under our current law.

    So those who defend this system are WRONG. End of discussion.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:52pm
    Unless this is a quite calculated end run around the established way of doing things, and forcing a change to occur without notice or consideration...

    Essentially if you pay someone a short term of Social Security, and they then find well-paid work, and your then calculate their 'entitlement' over a full twelve months (or more) - you are saying, in effect, that Social Security was only a loan.... since Centrelink can then recover the entire amount from you....

    Watch this spot...
    jonboy
    10th Jan 2017
    10:49am
    typical of Malcum Allbull to ruin decent Aussies lives over Xmas. and does he care, of course not.
    Oh well it Diverts Attemtion away from all his RICH mates on the Billions of dollars gravy train who are LEGALLY rorting the system under HIS guidance.
    Err wouldnt it be wise to tax those who are stealing from the poor, Oops sorry silly me.
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    3:08pm
    There is never a good time for anything.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:53pm
    Oh - I don't know... as Crazy Horse said at Little Big Horn - this looks like a good day for fighting....

    10th Jan 2017
    1:02pm
    Can somebody please tell me what mythical country OG lives in, 'cause I might want to move there! Apparently, where he lives bureaucrats and government employees never make mistakes; communication system and recording systems work perfectly at all times; every inquiry or request to a government agency is answered promptly and helpfully; nobody ever suffers injustice or unfairness; everybody can attain 15% investment returns; the government is all wise and always right; and nobody is ever underprivileged or disadvantaged through no fault of their own. Nobody suffered disadvantaged in the past that might reduce their ability to cope and earn a high income in retirement. If someone is accused of wrong by a government agency - or ever was - it's because they are committing fraud. The agency NEVER makes a mistake. And if the agency does make a mistake, a simple flick of the wrist will magically produce all the evidence needed and the mistake will be instantly corrected without anyone suffering the tiniest little bit of discomfort or hurt.

    On the other hand, of course, in this mythical nation it's not worth going out to dinner because restaurant meals are horrible and cruises are not much fun, and all entertainment is overpriced so probably not worthwhile. We are all supposed to live on broth made from lamb bones if I recall correctly.

    You would have to be seriously seriously mentally ill to think such a world exists, but OG wants us to believe it does and he lives there!!!!
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    3:04pm
    Stralia of course where else?

    Rabbits make great stew too. The best bit of a roast chicken are the bones made into awesome chicken noodle soup. Nothing beats good home cooking.

    Interesting that you should mention my world as I love it.

    Just spent the morning mowing and doing some garden maintenance for one of your disadvantaged, uneducated, downtrodden OAPs Rainey. House must be worth well over $2 million and the grounds alone would have cost more than an ordinary house to establish.

    Yes I did get an earful about the asset test change and how she will have to cut back etc but she did make me a nice cool drink. She did say her family have decided to help her more with the house and garden maintenance as it will theirs some day and they don't want it run down.

    Now can you honestly say that the taxpayer should be supporting people with this sort of wealth?
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    3:55pm
    Yes - if she has insufficient income-generating assets... it's her home, after all.....
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    4:28pm
    She spends her OAP money on herself and her kids pay all the other expenses. Things like cruise, bus trips, lunch out at least 3 times a week, Hair done once a week and many other things most people would called self indulgent luxuries.

    So yes she may not have enough income-producing assets for all these.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    6:06pm
    She's doing what a lot more Aussie seniors will be doing in response to the government's bashing of workers and savers. Most won't be anywhere near as rich as she is. They'll have too little to fund the retirement they EARNED, because economic downturn caused by the greedy rich and inept politicians buggered up their plans. So they will feel they have no option but to join the cheats and manipulators to get around the mean and grossly unfair policy changes.

    Nobody said, OG, that the taxpayer should support people with the wealth of the person you describe. But she is NOT typical of those hurt by the taper rate change. Tens of thousands will struggle to retain enough savings to meet their future needs. And they are frightened by all the talk of further cuts - like talk of STEALING their house if they need a little support at some point in their old age, or making health care unaffordable.

    If the government looked at my suggestion of means testing income only, but including deemed income where it exceeds real income and including the family home in assets on which deemed income is assessed, we might approach a fairer system and one that more realistically meets the needs of the honest in society. Set a high threshold so that owning an average-type home doesn't reduce income unreasonably, and offer concessional loans to those whose non-producing assets reduce their income to leave them with too little to live on. Reward those who contribute to society instead of disadvantaging them.

    There ARE solutions that DON'T involve beating everyone up for working hard, saving and paying off a home, but recognize that people should be allowed to benefit from hard work and responsible living, even if they can't achieve full self-sufficiency. Nobody should be forced to drain their savings while those who didn't save are rewarded. It's morally wrong. It's ethically wrong. And it's economically and socially destructive.
    Anonymous
    10th Jan 2017
    6:07pm
    PS Not sure where this mythical ''Stralia'' is, but it sure isn't any country governed by the LNP.
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    6:23pm
    Most of the people losing out because of the change in asset test would be not much different except for a house not quite as valuable as they lady I am talking about. Any of those people you mention Rainey just would not have the resources to be well enough off to lose out with the asset test changes.

    Funny about you not knowing where Stralia is because that is what most people call it. Have a good listen next time.
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    11:15pm
    So what if her kids and grand-kids pay for her holidays? Didn't she deserve it for being their mother/grandmother?

    And at her age, OG - shouldn't she be allowed to spend her money as she wishes?

    My Aunt (capital intended) was diagnosed with the family heart condition at around 60... her daughter - only child - was aghast that her mother should be spending her time and money on pokies. My Aunt had already found out that her husband, my only child cousin's father - was a paedophile who molested my two sisters and also the daughter of the then CEO of Commonwealth Steel...

    My response (thank you Colonel (me)....

    "Let your mother do what she wants to do......"

    Meaning - she hasn't too much time left, so shut up.

    That also applies to government and political twerps and all others .... STFU about people's earned retirement life. You have yet to earn the right.... so STFU!
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    11:19pm
    MY grandmother, born into a rich family, went through Jimmy Governor's rampage in New England, the Boer War, WWI, The Great Depression, WW II where she lost a son and had another flying over the Japanese almost daily, and then lost her husband when he had just retired at the top of his profession...... and spent the last 20-odd years of her life as an invalid.

    You may all STFU about the right of anyone to live in their own home and accept their pension as a Right, and you can tell that to your politician mates and their business cronies.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    8:28am
    My mate's father was born to a battling family, went to war at 19, got his legs shot to pieces, spent 3 years in a war prison, came back and worked as best he could for 30+ years, never drew a cent in pension money until he was too sick to stand up, and I had to fight for years to get his widow the pension she deserved. Kids were raised in poverty and several taken to an orphanage and never recovered from the abuse and deprivation they suffered. Never allowed contact with family. Found out years later that the only reason for removal was that the family couldn't afford enough blankets! Kids who grew up at home were loved and cared for and grew to be decent, hard working people, but injustice and cruelty by overpaid fat-cat bureaucrats caused horrific hurt that never healed. (Of course the fat-cat bureaucrats retired on a fat pension and get to keep their houses and pass them down to heirs!!!)

    All the kids battled to buy homes and give their kids a better chance at life, worked hard, and paid taxes, but it was always a battle with no education, no skills, no opportunities, no mentors or guides, no helpful connections... And now they are on aged pensions, and some ARSEHOLES want to make their pensions loans and take their houses away when they die!

    Well, I say let's make those ARSEHOLES pay compensation for the hell that family suffered so that those ARSEHOLES could enjoy a good life and get rich. A special tax to pay $1 million to everyone who was substantially disadvantaged by a parent's war injury or death would be appropriate I think.
    LiveItUp
    11th Jan 2017
    9:04am
    Good idea Rainey as I would certainly qualify. But it is way too painful for me to even think about let alone discuss my dirty washing. Much better to enjoy life today then dwell upon the past.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    11:09am
    So after bragging about your wealth, Bonny, and your financial education, now suddenly you are a poor pensioner?
    TREBOR
    11th Jan 2017
    2:47pm
    Interesting, Rainey - for some years I've been pondering the issue of compensation due to family members affected by Second Degree PTSD, that's service-related PTSD passed on to family - wives, children etc....

    If and when I begin working for the Vet's association, as asked to do and when I have time, I might re-visit that one. The most common refrain you hear from Vets is how dire their situation has been for their wives principally, and their children... the effect on family life can often be dire.

    On the issues of pensions, I also recall Peter FitzSimon's book about Tobruk, and the death of a father of six who were then left to struggle through life - one ended up an Army officer. I've also communicated with the widow of Charlie Green, who - she and their daughter - were both badly affected by his death.

    My personal view is that service-related disability it not adequately compensated. But we're off subject again...
    Anonymous
    15th Jan 2017
    10:06am
    The Federal Govt. allocated some $800 a year (reducing annually) to provide medical and legal support and counselling for Forgotten Australians (after having ignored their plight for 50 years!) No help for the wives or children - only the victim. I can tell you for an absolute certainty the wives and kids suffer far worse agony than the ''forgotten one''. And the parents and siblings? Well, most of the parents are dead by now I guess, so that's a blessing, but the hell some of them endured is indescribable. And the siblings' silent suffering will never be acknowledged.

    I guess affected family members shouldn't complain too much. What does $800 a year buy anyway when your life has been destroyed by cruel injustice?

    Many of the ''Forgotten Australians'' were children of women widowed in war or of men crippled physically, emotionally or both by war. But the vile arrogant creeps in this society who enjoy privilege want to further torment the victims of injustice and those whose lives were destroyed protecting the ''system'' that benefits the fortunate. No gratitude for the sacrifices made to enable them to enjoy the good life. Just contempt and cruelty and demands for the hurt to be hurt more. What a disgusting lot of self-serving monsters we live amongst!
    Old Geezer
    10th Jan 2017
    6:00pm
    If I was on welfare my income would be averaged over every week or fortnight so what is wrong with Centrelink averaging everyone's income over a week or fortnight?
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    11:23pm
    'If' .... that says it all.

    You will never be on welfare, my son - it's called ... and rightly so... Social Security.... and is a bought and paid for through taxes Right.

    You are struggling to make some case - any case - for this current debacle of your favourite party - and I now accept that you are nothing but a plant from that party.

    Good day to you, sir..... you have been revealed for what you are... pray that we do not meet on the field of battle.
    LiveItUp
    11th Jan 2017
    7:07am
    I agree with OG in that if someone people's income is averaged over the number of weeks or fortnights why isnt it the case for everyone?

    Looks to me if a person earned $100,000 over 2 months then they should be on welfare for 10 months of the year. Sounds a bit unfair to me. But that is what people are whingjng about.

    So i really can't see a problem with what Centrelink has done at all.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    8:36am
    It's your choice to be self-employed or an investor, Bonny. Employees are treated differently. Don't like it? Become an employee.
    LiveItUp
    11th Jan 2017
    8:59am
    Good idea Rainey. I'll set it all up some I'm an employee that owns norhing and gets paid once a year. Then I get 51 weeks welfare. Food for thought.
    Anonymous
    15th Jan 2017
    9:54am
    My point exactly, Bonny. Anyone who wants to practice the art of deception gets on well in this world. Our government promotes, applauds and rewards it. Honest battlers who work and pay taxes get shafted at every turn, condemned, insulted, abused, threatened, bullied, and subjected to monstrous injustice. And then some fools wonder why we have an increasingly expensive welfare mentality and a decrease in honesty and integrity in the community.

    10th Jan 2017
    6:11pm
    ah yes great to be back in Australia, the groans and the moans of 98% of the contributors (pensioners) to these columns all thinking they have been hard done by, yet overseas travel is up, spending has never been better, the share market is doing well and savings are on the up, waiting times for cruises are at a maximum and all that is officially blamed to be caused by the increase of use by pensioners, to think these so called aussies got the gall to call the poms whingers, hate to think when something bad happened in this country.
    Anyhow keep on complaining, it gives the onlooker a good laugh and the knowledge how good we have in this country I proudly call home, AUSTRALIA
    TREBOR
    10th Jan 2017
    11:25pm
    Please go back to where you were.... you whinging clown....

    Everything you posted here is a blatant lie... nothing is running well in this country at this time.... so go home again.
    LiveItUp
    11th Jan 2017
    7:08am
    Welcome back the house of many laughs.
    Anonymous
    11th Jan 2017
    6:04pm
    trebor read your comments in regard to your grandmother and going back to your given details, she must have been wel over a hundred years old when she passed away and by your own word she never complained, does not look too good for you being the lifechoises whinger of the year and may I say it was a toss-up between you and rainy, how surprised I would be to see just one constructed comment by one of you, ah well for that to happen we might have to wait for labor to win an election and then we all be in deep poe, anyhow keep it up, as they say a laugh a day keeps the doctor away and as your comments gives us many a laugh for their stupidity at least you are doing something fruitful for our country Australia
    Not Senile Yet!
    12th Jan 2017
    10:33am
    Just send the Notice back to them asking for it to be put in Farsi!
    When that comes...send it back saying Farsi Companion has left!
    Request a New Notice in Swahilly!
    And so on and so on!
    They did not invent being given the Run Around!
    inextratime
    12th Jan 2017
    5:46pm
    One word describes the ''Old Geezer'' - Sanctimonious. and boringly so.
    Anonymous
    12th Jan 2017
    7:52pm
    truth hurts
    PIXAPD
    13th Jan 2017
    3:04pm
    43C today, Centrelink putting the heat on people?

    14th Jan 2017
    8:47pm
    just asking if it is only me who wonder why labor mick is wearing a mask?


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