He’s 90, she’s 88. On July 25, 2016 Centrelink sent them a letter demanding that they pay back $22,239.82 each in excess pension payments. They were given 28 days to pay from the date of the letter. If they didn’t they would lose the pension, it would be put in the hands of a debt collector and interest added. In addition they would no longer have access to cancer drugs, costing $2,000 a month.
No, they were not allowed an extension, or a time payment plan. Pay up, or else!
They scrambled, and with the help of their son, paid the bill.
Subsequently is was discovered that the couple actually owed $3,642.12 each because they had omitted updating their bank account details. Probably they committed the mortal sin of saving some money, I don’t know. The admission of error by Centrelink came on November 25, three months after the deadline for payment. At they time the local Quest News went to press two months later, Centrelink had not returned the $37,000 or so excess payment. The online version says the money has now been returned.
This is not a case where everyone lived happily ever after. Their local member, Wayne Swan, says his office has been inundated with dozens of constituents who have received debt recovery notices. The story reports that 17,000 debt recovery notices have been sent to welfare recipients since July.
The Government which should be taking care of vulnerable people is routinely harassing and bullying them.
This government deserves to die, and if an election were held now it almost certainly would. Essential Report has Labor ahead 54-46 TPP and ahead of the LNP 37-35 on primary votes.
Essential also did a survey on how the debt recovery program was handled, finding people disapproved 48-36, with 16% having no opinion.
There’s more with Paul Karp at The Guardian.