Just when you thought the rigmarole of dealing with Centrelink couldn’t possibly become worse, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has revealed it believes itself at discretion to release personal details in order to combat claims it objects with.
The revelation comes after blogger Andie Fox found the DHS had released private information from her file to a Fairfax Media journo, who wrote a story countering one of Fox’s blog posts discussing an allegedly false Centrelink debt.
In a statement obtained by the ABC, the DHS claims when “such disclosures are made for the purposes of the social security law or the family assistance law, they do not need to be formally authorised by the secretary.”
“Unfounded allegations unnecessarily undermine confidence and takes staff effort away from dealing with other claims.“We will continue to correct the record on such occasions.”
What’s more is that Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge even retweeted the relevant Fairfax piece after his office provided the journo with the information, indicating support for the procedure extends right to the top of the DHS hierarchy.
Fairfax acknowledges that Andie Fox did have debt despite publishing her article that Centrelink “terrorised” her. https://t.co/nmacxmIKtc
— Alan Tudge (@AlanTudgeMP) February 25, 2017
Opposition to the move has come from other corners too, with Greens Senator Scott Ludlam saying everything about this debacle is totally out of line.
— Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam) February 27, 2017
@AlanTudgeMP You are deliberately misrepresenting the facts & targeting an individual to protect your reputation. You should be ashamed.
— Cristy Clark (@cristyclark) February 27, 2017
— wait. what? (@ellipsii) February 27, 2017
Disgusted to see Alan Tudge abusing his discretionary powers to attack a member of the public. Unprofessional & unethical.
— Damon Young (@damonayoung) February 27, 2017