Centrelink to target pensioners in next round of debt collection

For weeks now Centrelink has been copping backlash over its “robo-debt” campaign, which saw it targeting people on Youth Allowance
Centrelink has its eyes on a new target.

For weeks now Centrelink has been copping backlash over its “robo-debt” campaign, which saw it targeting people on Youth Allowance and incorrectly claiming it owed them money.

Now, the government body has announced it has a new target: pensioners and those with a disability.

Despite the errors that have plagued the scheme so far, the government says it is forging ahead with the plan and will focus on 3 million Aussies receiving the aged pension and the disability support pension.

“Relative to the 2016-2017 budget, policy decisions are expected to decrease expenses on the age pension by $1.1 billion to 2019-2020 primarily due to measures to enhance the integrity of social welfare payments including expanding and extending data-matching activities with the Australian taxation office,” the mid-year fiscal outlook report reads.

The report forecasts savings of $1.1 billion from the data-matching program, but many are worried history will repeat and thousands of innocent pensioners will be targeted.

Anyone on the pension or disability support pension knows just how difficult it can be to make ends meet, which has lead some to wonder why the government plans on going after them so ferociously.

Las week, a Centrelink employee blew the whistle on what was going on behind the scenes, telling Fairfax the welfare body didn’t seem to care about how it was affecting people’s lives.

Read more: Government accused of abandoning Aussies in their hour of need

“They don’t care about average Australians, they don’t care about their customers or their staff,” the staffer said.

While many are upset the government has its sights set on pensioners, others say the scheme is needed to weed out scammers and catch those rorting the system.

The campaign is expected to start soon, with pensioners being told to question any letters they receive from Centrelink claiming they have a debt to pay as they could be a victim on the glitch.

How do you feel about this? Do you think the program is needed? Or is this just another case of pensioners getting getting the short end of the stick?

  1. Anita Davies  

    Are they going to target ex government employees too. Those on thousands of dollars a year and a full time job. I am not worried, they can go through my finances with a fine tooth comb. If I was hiding anything I wouldn’t need to keep using what little super I have left to pay the bills and eat.

    • Quite agree they need to stop giving themselves a extra pension etc if we wuit from a job that place doesnt keep giving us super etc, clean up their own 1st

    • New Self Funded Retiree  

      This exercise is about those illegitimately receiving pensions, those who are scamming the systems according to the current rules (not all of which are agreeable). Frankly I’m appalled at the projected numbers.
      Benefits for Ex govt officials is another matter altogether, and yes it needs to be reviewed.
      Lets push for that in future rounds of savings.

  2. patricia dick  

    I would be interested in hearing the Labor plans for our Aged Pensions. Malcolm wants to cut everything and here we are going backwards so fast it isn’t funny. Our paltry couple of dollars increase is making our life so difficult.
    We need decent increases not cuts/ So now we must look towards Labor and their vision for us if they get into power./

    • Sue  

      Patrick labor liberal greens they all supported the changes and attacking those who could not afford it. But won’t chase the wealthy non tax paying companies with their millions in profit OR of course their own

    • Lynne Dawson  

      Don,t bother looking at Labour they won,t help

  3. Leave the pensioners and disabilities alone take it from the refugees stop taking them in and housiing etc for them, look after our own people first, its so not fair to our aussies and people you have done the right thing all their life ,

    • Eve  

      Agree with you Margaret,it’s shameful picking on the people that rely on pensions,we worked,paid our taxes,and this is the treatment we get,SHAME on the government of the day,you won’t win the next election. Pick on your own piggies in the trough with you instead.!

      • New Self Funded Retiree  

        Eve, They are NOT targeting you personally, NOR are they targeting people legitimately receiving welfare.
        Lets weed out the scammers.

    • Fran Foster  


      • I agree wholeheartedly!! Pick on the politicians pensions and so-called entitlements and stop the influx and extra benefits given to the refugees. Look after us older Australians who have worked and made the country such a wonderful place to live….

    • Valerie Kirby  

      We paid for our pensions by paying an extra 7% income tax and it was never supposed to be means tested. We had to pay this when income tax was up to 47% and mortgage interest rates were over 10%. How were we ever to save for retirement? Malcolm Fraser took the Pension Fund but we still had to keep paying the extra but it went into General Revenue instead. That is why we fought for superannuation to go into individual’s own name so they could not take it again but they keep trying. Politicians should not get pensioners until the same age as the rest of us and they should have to pay back any money wrongly claimed. They jump on pensioners soon enough but we are expected to know all the rules but they don’t understand theirs. So much for running the country. They have put us deeply in debt.

    • Kenneth  

      I agree with Margaret.
      I struggle to live on my Pension as I pay rent.
      But when I hear these Refugees get so much handed to them take our homes I get so angry I wish I was younger I would become PETER LAWLOR.
      I have been waiting 4 yrs. for Chep Housing and I know many waiting longer.
      NO more Refugees make AUSTRALIA AUSTRALIAN again.

  4. Guy Flavell  

    It’s simple … you reach 65 yo and you receive the Old Age Pension. Home-owning pensioners with assets in excess of $357 k will have a reduction of $3 for every $1000 over this amount. Most
    people will agree this is quite fair and equitable. I just can’t understand why the Government feels
    this is an area where it can make cuts ? Perhaps de facto couples claiming two separate pensions or pensioners not declaring part-time cash in hand work might be worth investigating ? It seems to me
    that this could well be just a complete waste of public monies by Centrelink.

    • G Eaton  

      Yes and they keep changing the age so people have to work longer even if they cant and if you have looked lately everything is going up nothing coming down how are these pensioners or people on disability suppose to pay high rents pay bills and medications as well as try to feed themselves ! tell me . I have to wait until I am 65.5 yrs old before I qualify for pension tell me how is that fair ! RENTS ARE WAY TO HIGH BANKS ARE GREEDY PENSIONS NEED TO BE GIVEN AT THE AGE OF 65YRS after all we have paid taxes all those years why shouldn’t we get something back when people come from overseas and get everything ! This country is turning into another AMERICA !!

  5. I agree stop feeding and filling all the refugees bellies!!!! Stop paying for multiple wives!!!Stop giving Aussies a hard life!!!!Australian government is a disgrace! M What is wrong with you???? Can anyone of you get it right!!!Charity starts at home!!!! That means Australian citizens first!!!!!Mr Turnbull and all your users wake up you useless idiots!!! All you do is target the poor and the elderly!!!! Weak pricks you are!!!’ May Karma bite you all and hopefully you will have a conscience to realise you got served yours!!!!!

    • Jeannette  

      Spot on Melanie and Margaret . The goverment needs to look after their own first and stop giving our money away to these users and abusers – when you think about it it’s laughable – it just does not any sense, Turnbul needs to be booted out an fast !

      • Denise  

        I worked for an employment company for a short time and was appalled at the amount some people were getting. They were not interested when you said they had to look for work. They wouldn’t turn up for appointments and there was nothing we could do about it! Should have been allowed to cut off their benefits until they complied, but we didn’t have that power. Such a huge abuse of the system – I couldn’t believe it. Add that to the fact that many unemployed are living rent free in their families mansions – the houses are SO big now – and they are potentially racking in 3, 4, 5 or more payments – why would they go out to work when we are all paying them to stay home? The system is VERY BROKEN as far as I am concerned and it doesn’t seem as if anyone is game to fix it.

    • Christine  

      society is judged by how they treat their poor, disabled and elderly. a very poor rating for this government. i retired aged 67 in May last year. I got a part pension from June 2016 and had it taken in January 2017. Now living on a paltry super $700 a fortnight I don’t own a home but rent. I own two half investment properties and the other partner doesn’t need or want to sell. My super will not last very long so don’t know what will happen then. I think in the not too distant future the government will send us all a pill in the mail when we turn 65 and tell us to take it when we like. They don’t want us no appreciation for the contribution we have made. It stinks. I have raised 4 sons who have never used centrelink I used it for the first time in my life when i applied for the aged pension last year and as stated that was very short lived.
      I even worked with a disability when I could have applied for a disability pension and finished work earlier but I want to be as independent as I can. I am disillusioned and object that i have paid taxes for many years and now when I need a little assistance they dump me. My youngest son is getting married in Indonesia and I can’t afford to go. No-one cares.

  6. Wayne Mclean  

    it is plain to see that these greedy cretins want to have a pay incrase plus extend their rorts and the only place they can get this money is to thieve it of the needy , poor ,the aged and the people who can not stand up for them selves it is time for the people of australia to revolt and get rid of these self centered greedy un caring thieves stupid cretins out of parliment now

    • Naomi  

      They dnt need to wait for s pay rise. All they do is STEAL the miney from ya…. effen idiots….

  7. Ann Marston  

    This greedy LNP Government reminds me of the ROBIN HOOD DAYS when the King took ALL FROM THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD NOTHING AND ENDED UP WITH EVEN LESS. Maybe we should again have a Robin Hood but WHO????? Good Question…. Just don’t know who we could replace Malcolm Turnbull with. Maybe there could be someone in the Parliament strong enough, and with enough mettle to topple this poppy who thinks he just it. Most of his ministers, including himself, sort the system so go after them too with someone NOT in Parliament.

    • Trish stephens  

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again, thieves and charlatans the lot of them! Makes no difference what party is in power. Greed and avarice is their reason for living! There are two types of politician. Those caught, and those still running with the cookie jar!

  8. Pauline Kilkenny  

    We missed out on the first home owners scheme when we were younger, we paid 17.5% interest and we didn’t have all the perks of child minding fees that the younger ones get these days. I think we did it tough when we were younger so we now deserve a break! Never mind reducing pensions how about an increase for some.

  9. Guy Flavell  

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Treasurer indicate that the pension would increase
    by $30 pf on 1/1/17 when declaring the 2015 Budget ? 1/1/17 has now passed with NO increase
    apart from a small percentage of home-owning pensioners with assets between $200 k and $357 K.
    Was this just a blatant lie by our Treasurer … leaving huge numbers of needy pensioners totally let
    down by the Government ? This increase for our non home-owning pensioners paying exorbitant private rentals would have been an absolute Godsend … shame LNP, shame !!!

    • Lillian Wallace  

      You are so right Guy what did happen to the $30.00 Per fortnight,I actually tried to access MYGov a couple of days before 1/1/17 and was told my password was incorrect once again system failure .

      • Robyn  

        It is a sure fire plan to get more votes from pensioners NOT.

  10. Johanna  

    Why use a system that is faulty in the first place? Why target pensioners who are struggling yo get by as it is and those on disability pensions, who are lucky enough to get it?
    Someone i know looked after her severely disabled son for 35 years. She now has multiple health issues, including s heart pronlem, but is not able to get a disability pension. She is in her sixties and expected to find work. She is on newstart. Her son died two years ago. All she has donr for all that time is care for him. How about the government now cares for people like her?

  11. Denise  

    I think the proposed attack on aged and disability pensions is disgraceful and the LNP should be ashamed – however the Labor Party have said they will vote to pass it in the house – so who is there to look after the elderly and disabled??
    I believe everyone outraged by this should be writing – not just to their local member but to every member of parliament. Bombard their email system – use snail mail – challenge them in the public arena – at functions.
    I have had a gutful of having to constantly monitor my utility bills – constantly having to change providers to chase the discounts to make my age pension stretch that little bit further. Grab the junk mail to check the supermarkets for the specials and then have to do the trip to all four in my area – just to balance my budget I still have the capacity to do so – but what about those who don’t – these are the ones who are going to suffer the anxiety and stress if they receive one of these letters – the fact that the letters are incorrect is irrelevant – it is the impact on the recipient that is going to cause the most damage. They all have their heads up their ***** and they all speak ****

    • pete harper  

      well said Denise,couldnt have said it better

  12. Macdood  

    To get back to the article. Yes the government has a duty, on behalf of all taxpayers, to recover payments incorrectly made to recipients.
    This is a different issue to the size of the pension or politicians’ entitlements.
    Is anyone really suggesting the government should just let any overpayments go?

    • New Self Funded Retiree  

      Hooray Macdood, finally someone who is commenting on the FACT, not the fiction.
      Strongly support weeding out scammers.
      Seems like there are many of them if the projected $s are in the right ballpark.

      • jaywalker  

        Yes, it has a duty to recover genuine debts BUT the huge problem here is that it is sending out thousands of INCORRECT debt letters which are causing huge amounts of stress to people who don’t deserve it. This government is so arrogant it won’t admit its own blaring mistakes.

    • Diana  

      They should not let any genuine over payments go, but they could fix up their computer glitches which are targeting people who DO NOT owe any money. You can be sure that if it was the pollies who were being charged for debts they didn’t owe it would be fixed quick smart.

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