MP claims Centrelink debt letters were ‘polite’

There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about Centrelink sending out debt letters to people it claims to
Social services minister Christian Porter

There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about Centrelink sending out debt letters to people it claims to have overpaid.

On social media, it’s lead to trending hashtags including #notmydebt and #Centrelinkfail – and there’s been plenty of criticism from people who say they’re being wrongly sent debt letters.

Now the social services minister Christian Porter has defended the debt letters, claiming they were polite.

He told ABC Radio today that 169,000 review letters had been sent out and there had been few complaints.



“The complaint rate is running at 0.16 per cent … only 276 complaints out of 169,000 letters and that process has raised $300 million worth of money back to the taxpayer,” he said.

Porter said the letters were worded in a “polite” way, and while he was happy to say what the complaint rate was, he reportedly declined to reveal how many people were challenging the debt letters.

The letter asks people to give more information on the Centrelink website, with some people asked to go back and provide years worth of figures.

That’s prompted some people to complain about issues with the Centrelink website, issues that Porter has dismissed.

“If anyone is having difficulties they can seek an extension of time if they wish,” he said.

It’s estimated the government will reclaim as much as $4 billion worth of money overpaid to Centrelink recipients.

But the process has been criticised by the Opposition, with Labor’s human services spokeswoman Linda Burney calling for it to be suspended.

She wrote on Twitter, disputing Porter’s claims that the system was working well.

“No MP who has checked the emails to their electorate office could possibly say this. Unbelievable.” she wrote.

If you’re one of the recipients of the letter, it might have come as a shock to you.

Tell us about it in the comments below.

What do you think about this? Did you receive a debt letter from Centrelink?




  1. Centrelink also have debt collection agencies harassing people at 2 and 3 in the morning demanding immediate payment. Even though they have been told that the claim is refuted and further checks underway!

  2. Clancy mayers  

    Yes I received a letter saying I owe a lot of money as my wife worked, I was told when I got my invalid pension we did not have to declare any more now five years later we have a debt that we can’t afford as my wife is now a pensioner also.

  3. David George  

    Yes I received one of these letters. Not A problem very polite letter just asking me to contact Centrelink re an overpayment. Firstly got on to someone who could not figure out why I had received the letter in the first place, however there was a substantial debt. She said she would have to refer it to her supervisor for follow up.
    Received a phone call from the supervisor stating that I did owe money, however after checking my records they could not prove why. The gentleman was very good and explained that under these circumstances the debt would be completely written off.
    Have not heard anymore, but they stated it must have been a glitch in their computer system going back to the day I retired
    No problems with Centrelink or the letter sent out at this stage.

    • Diandra  

      If yours was a glitch in the computer I wonder how many more might be.

      • Jim  

        And of course if you have been honest and upfront then it doesn’t matter how many letters you get, but if you have cheated the system then this is straight out thieving from your fellow Australians….so no sympathy if you are caught ….

  4. alan stonham  

    christian porter,time for a reality check clown,nothing polite about harrassing letters,especially when they are sent to people that do not have the capacity to defend themselves,when in a state of fear,smarten up porter

  5. Joy Rhodes  

    There is NOTHING polite about sending incorrect letters demanding money to anyone. There should not be glitches in the system. A totally inept government attacking all the wrong people. I wonder why the tax department doesn’t send the same type of letters to large companies that pay no tax all. Christian Porter, along with the rest of his party is a joke.

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