The Greens say there is no justification for the Government to be issuing and requiring payment of Centrelink debts during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Government is sending mixed and very confusing messaging about debts.
"Debts are supposedly paused but some processing is still going on, robodebts are supposed to be frozen but people are still having to make repayments on what are likely to be illegal debts and people are being sent notices for the period when income reporting was turned off.
"The Minister for Social Services yesterday confirmed in the Senate that debts should not have been incurred during the period that income reporting was not required, yet some people are now getting notices.
"This is causing a deep level of anxiety.
"For weeks now my office has been inundated with calls, messages and emails from people who cannot use MyGov or contact Centrelink.
"Income reporting was suspended because of the huge influx of people attempting to use Centrelink and people simply couldn’t report. Now the system is supposedly able to cope so income reporting is again required but people are telling us they still can’t report.
"I’ve had someone tell me that the payment they were supposed to get this week prior to Easter has been shifted to next week - this leaves them with NO money over Easter.
"No debts should have been incurred during the period where income reporting was not required, any so called debts from that period must be dropped immediately, not ‘paused’.
"No one should be left behind during this crisis and that includes existing income support recipients.
"Large sectors of the community are being offered relief at this time and some rules have been relaxed which is appreciated, but it seems some of the punitive approaches to people on income support remain."
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180