An investigation by The New Daily has revealed that the Department of Human Services (DHS) knew that private Medicare details were for sale on the dark web before the story went public.
An investigation by The Guardian in July revealed that millions of Medicare numbers and patient details were available for sale on the dark web.
At the time, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge stated that his department was unaware that millions of Australians had had their details for sale on the dark web since October 2016, until the story became public.
Internal emails, obtained by The New Daily under freedom of information laws, revealed that department officials discussed the security issue as early as 22 June – nearly two weeks before revelations that Medicare numbers were being sold online.
While a great deal of the email conversations released under the freedom of information laws are heavily redacted, when the story was published, Mark Withnell, General Manager of Business Integrity at the DHS emailed colleagues stating “this is the one I was mentioning last week”.
Mr Tudge reiterated that he had no prior knowledge of the breach.
“I was not aware of this case until 3 July when the journalist alerted me to them,” he told The New Daily.
Mr Tudge’s response can only lead to two possible conclusions: he is not telling the full truth about what his department knew and when; or he was not competent enough to understand what issues were arising in his department and his staff were not confident enough to approach him with the details.
Either way, what is totally clear is that this latest revelation provides further evidence that Mr Tudge should be replaced as Human Services Minister.
He somehow managed to hold onto his job after the department controversially released the private details and personal information of a Centrelink recipient to a journalist in order to diffuse claims she made in the media earlier this year
Surely, this latest deception has to be the final straw.