Centrelink pursues robo-debt expansion

File image. Source: AAP

Centrelink is expanding its controversial automated debt recovery program to investigate income from assets and investments, despite calls to scrap the scheme.

Centrelink is pushing on with plans to expand its controversial automated debt recovery program from July, despite renewed calls for the welfare agency to halt its scheme while apparent flaws are fixed.

A Senate inquiry into the so-called robo-debt scandal has wrapped up after hearings across the country over the past three months.

Labor Senator Murray Watt says while adjustments have been made to the automated system, "deep flaws and very grave doubts about the validity of the system" remain.

More than 200,000 people have so far been snared by the system and at least one in five debt notices have been wrong.

Centrelink continues to send out roughly 10,000 debt letters each week.

The welfare agency has so far used the automated system to examine people's wages declared to the tax office but from July 1, also intends examining income from assets and investments.

The looming expansion is expected to generate $980 million over three years.

Senator Watt fears aged pensioners will be caught up in the widened scheme.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Privacy Commissioner has reopened an investigation into whether the minister responsible for Centrelink leaked an individual's personal information to the media without her consent.

Federal police recently investigated but decided not to take the matter further but Senator Watt suspects the commissioner may still find a breach of civil law.

The Senate inquiry is expected to report next month.

Source AAP

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