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Appeals to AAT on Centrelink debts has increased, estimates reveals

Questioning during estimates has revealed that the number of appeals made about Centrelink debts to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has jumped by nearly 1000 for the first three quarters of this financial year compared with the whole previous financial year.

“Appeals are up to 4,354 from 3,387 the previous year and we’re not even at the end of the financial year yet. This is clear evidence that the Centrelink’s debt recovery system is resulting in more problems and errors such that members of the community are having to appeal”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“I suspect that many of these are resulting from the robo-debt debacle. There is so much evidence suggesting that the robo-debt system is fundamentally broken in its rollout and is causing so many problems.

“The Government shouldn’t be compounding stress for people who have accessed the social safety net for support as a student, a parent, a carer, a jobseeker, or a person with disability.

“This increase signals a need to review the automated debt recovery process”.

END

Hansard transcript excerpt:

Senator SIEWERT: How many appeals have you had come through on the online compliance system to date?

Mr Matthies : Our case management system records information about whether it is an application about debt, but that is the extent of the information that is available on the case management system.

Senator SIEWERT: In that case, could you give me that information on Centrelink debt?

Mr Matthies : In the current financial year, to 30 April 2017, the number of applications relating to debt is 4,354.

Senator SIEWERT: Is it possible to give me a comparison to the previous financial year?

Mr Matthies : In 2015-16, for the full financial year, there were 3,387.

Senator SIEWERT: That is for the whole of the financial year?

Mr Matthies : That is correct.

Senator SIEWERT: There has been a significant increase, in that case, if this is for the first three quarters of the year.

Mr Matthies : Yes.

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