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Government using commission only private debt collectors for automated debt recovery program

The Senate inquiry into the Centrelink debt recovery process has revealed that the Government is paying private debt collectors commission only to rake back potentially incorrect automated debts from former Centrelink recipients.

“I have to ask why is the Government paying private debt collectors commission only to retrieve Centrelink debts? Do they think it will result in more money being raked back? This might go a long way to explain the accounts we’ve heard of overzealous private debt collectors in pursuing potentially incorrect debts.

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Greens seek advice from Senate Clerk about potential witnesses feeling intimidated in the lead up to the senate Centrelink inquiry

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is today urging Centrelink recipients to make submissions to the Senate inquiry and not to be deterred by the Government's current behaviour in releasing personal information, explaining that giving evidence to a Senate committee is covered by Parliamentary Privilege.

“In order to reassure people who may be considering making a submission I have sought advice from the Acting Clerk of the Senate on the protections to witness and prospective witness to the senate inquiry into the Centrelink debt recovery system.

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Government turns its back on people with disability and refuses to hold a Royal Commission into disability abuse, violence and neglect

The Government has officially announced it will not hold a Royal Commission into abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability in institutional settings, despite it being recommended in a senate committee report tabled nearly a year and half ago.

“A range of recommendations compiled with extensive consultation to address systemic abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability across the country has been effectively dismissed by the Government, or as they like to put it, ‘noted’.

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DHS trawling social media to find Centrelink complaints only to intimidate recipients is huge concern: Greens

“It is deeply concerning that DHS staff have been trawling through social media to find people complaining about Centrelink to provide to the Minister”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.  

“They’re then taking these complaints and rather than seeking to remedy them, and might release your personal details to ‘correct the record’ to protect the ‘public confidence’ and ‘integrity’ of the social security system.

"The department confirmed they keep an eye on traditional media but to trawl social media is a new development that raises strong concerns.

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28 million busy signals hit in the first seven months of this financial year for those trying to reach Centrelink

“28 million calls hitting a busy signal in the first seven months of this financial year is astronomical and could reflect people trying to get through to fix an incorrect debt”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“Last year for the whole financial year was 29 million busy signals, up 22 million from the previous year.

“To see 28 million busy signals in the first seven months shows an extreme trajectory that the Government must work to remedy immediately.

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Unconventional gas could be worse than coal: we need a national fracking ban

The Australian Greens today reiterated their call for a national ban on fracking in light of reports that unconventional gas fracking could be worse than coal for the climate. 

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on resources said:

“This newest study on massive ‘fugitive’ pollution from fracking wells shows we need a national ban on fracking. 

“Unconventional gas fracking wells and pipes leak like a sieve, and they could be just as bad for the climate as burning coal

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ANAO report highlights failures of DHS compliance measures and recent events show it’s getting worse: Greens

An Australian National Audit Office report shows a dysfunctional crackdown on the social safety net before the large scale automated debt recovery system even begun, with saving targets not even met in most cases.

“Anyone taking a flick through the ANAO report can see that an erosion of the social safety net has been going on for some time and that the approach has long been in disarray”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

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Greens Senator Rachel Siewert responds to Government leaking Centrelink recipient details to media

“It is extremely concerning that the Government has willingly and openly given media the personal details of a Centrelink recipient and will do so again to those who dare to speak out about the automated debt recovery system.

"This has huge implications for the privacy of those on income support and receiving other payments from Government.

“The effort the Government has put into 'correcting the record' for media should go to correcting thousands of incorrect debts.

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Debt collectors posing as Government department just another line of deceit

A report of a debt collection agency portraying itself as a Government department is just another underhanded and nasty tactic being used as part of the Government’s automated debt recovery program, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“We have heard many times about how aggressive the debt collectors are being to struggling Australians that have accessed the social safety net in the last six years.

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