The Coalition is doubling down on their awful Centrelink robodebt program, with Health Services Minister Stuart Robert confirming the system will implement data-matching with Medicare records to further assist in identifying ‘fraud’. This is despite the fact the current system continues to return dubious results, with the minister himself confirming up to one in five issued Centrelink debt recovery notices may be incorrect.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Department of Human Services quietly issued a gazette last week outlining the new program, which seeks match “identities and details held in Centrelink records with those held in Medicare records”.
According to the department, the addition of Medicare records to the data-matching scheme will make it easier to identify so-called “premeditated fraudulent activities”.
This announcement comes amid a series of robodebt crises. Yesterday in Parliament, Robert apologised for a case in which a mother was pursued for her deceased son’s alleged Centrelink debt, admitting the department “was wrong”.
“Because of the size of the debt being uneconomical to recover and the length of time, the department should have simply waived the debt,” he told Parliament.
Nine News reported yesterday a case in which a 22-year old Queensland man took his own life hours after receiving a robodebt notice. Earlier this year, Triple J reported that over 2,000 people died after receiving robodebt notices. The department strenuously denies there is a link.
Bill Shorten, who is now Labor’s human services spokesperson, has called upon the government to ditch the robodebt program altogether.
“We recognise the right of government to recoup legitimate debts that are owed,” he said. “But robodebt is not that, it is a mess.”
As it stands, the government is holding fast against increasing pressure to abolish the robodebt program and increase Newstart.Image: AAP