Senate launches inquiry into 'robo-debt'

| 01.08,19. 10:10 PM |



Senate launches inquiry into 'robo-debt'


A Senate committee will look at Centrelink's controversial robo-debt collection of welfare payments.Image: AAP

Centrelink's controversial robo-debt collection of welfare payments will face another parliamentary inquiry as calls grow to scrap the system.


The Senate's community affairs committee is set to examine the federal government's automatic debt collection system, which has come under fire for being inaccurate.


Labor is demanding the government axe robo-debt, arguing the system is cruel and malfunctioning, while the Greens led the charge for a second inquiry in less than three years.


The committee will look at how robo-debt affects people, the data-matching techniques used by Centrelink and how errors are dealt with.


Greens community affairs spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said the government had ignored the first inquiry's key recommendation to suspend the program.


"Instead, the government ramped it up. To this day, people continue to be pursued," she said.


"I hear from so many people that they have given up appealing their debt even though they know they don't owe anything, simply because they cannot keep fighting such an opaque system."


Labor has also been pursuing the government about concerns Townsville flood victims have been targeted by robo-debt.


A redacted letter from Centrelink to someone living in the Townsville area notifying of a welfare debt was tabled in the Senate on Wednesday.


But Social Services Minister Anne Ruston is adamant debt recovery hasn't restarted in the flood-affected north Queensland city.


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