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Charging interest on income support debts a sledgehammer approach: Greens

Charging interest on people that owe a Centrelink debt will disproportionately affect Australians on low incomes and who weren’t intentionally committing fraud, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today. 

“The Government has pointed to very rare circumstances of extreme fraud to justify the measure.   

“The fact is debts may be owed for a variety of reasons and this is a sledge hammer approach. This is yet another example of the Government using extreme examples to justify pressuring people who may not be able to pay, who disagree they owe money, made innocent mistakes, or the Department made mistakes.   

“I agree those that have committed fraud should face the consequences and pay back debts owed but this measure will disproportionately hurt Australians who have made a mistake or don’t owe a debt at all. 

“It truly is astounding how much work the Government puts in to vilifying Australians who have accessed the social safety net so they can claw back money. When will the Government do the right thing and implement revenue raising measures that target the big end of town? 

“With tactics like this we increase inequality. I urge the Government to reconsider and take a reasonable targeted approach to those who have committed deliberate fraud”. 

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