From 1 January 2017, Australian residents who owe Centrelink money could be stopped by immigration officials at airports and prevented from leaving the country.
The travel ban will apply to people who no longer receive payments from Centrelink and refuse to repay money owed. More than 200,000 people owe Centrelink a combined $3.5 billion and the Government agency is going to extraordinary lengths to recover the debt.
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jorgen has urged those affected to call Centrelink if they are concerned about not being able to go on a planned holiday.
The new measures will see immigration officials stopping, at the border, any person who owes Centrelink a debt and initially just reminding them of the debt. If the situation is not resolved within a reasonable period of time, a future travel ban could be put into effect. There is a level of flexibility in the action taken by immigration officials depending largely on the sum of money owed and/or nature of travel plans.
“Basically, these are a range of measures which enable us to contact people, remind them of that debt and ensure that they take appropriate action to repay the debt or enter into an appropriate arrangement,” said Mr Jorgen.
Read more at 9news.com.au
What do you think? Is Centrelink within its rights to place a travel ban on those who owe the Government department debts? Are there better ways to collect this outstanding money that you could suggest?