Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan backed a call in Parliament on Tuesday to urgently review Centrelink debt recovery activities.
Ms McGowan supported a motion by Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie to acknowledge the severe financial and emotional toll the current debt recovery system is having on thousands of people.
“It is very disappointing that the government prevented the issue being debated in the Parliament,” Ms McGowan said.
“The Centrelink debt issue is part of a bigger problem of resources being pulled out of government departments. People accessing these services are often at a vulnerable point in their lives.
“I was proud to be part of a group of independent voices in Parliament today speaking up for people who often feel forgotten by the major parties.
“At the last election around 23% of people voted for independents or minor parties. People clearly want to know who is on their side. Who is speaking up for people dealing with disadvantage or those in rural and regional Australia?”
In response to complaints from constituents about significant debts being raised incorrectly, Ms McGowan has written to Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge. Constituents’ individual complaints are being forwarded to the Minister.
“Adequate resources need to be made available to Centrelink to resolve quickly the increased number of complaints,” Ms McGowan said.
“The scale of the problem indicates that the process is deeply flawed. Any suggestion that the system in its current form be expanded to people receiving aged or disability payments would be of extreme concern.”