A Conduit of Mostly Non Mainstream News / Information – without Political Correctness…
The nonagenarian had been receiving overseas pension payments, on top of the Australian pension.
The Auditor-General also revealed yesterday that Centrelink had spent 22 years trying to recover $9400 it overpaid in unemployment benefits.
The debtor paid back $2638 last April but was referred to debt collectors in November.
The Auditor-General’s report, tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday, reveals that debt collection agencies Dun & Bradstreet and Recoveries Corporation chased 152,682 Australians for debts totalling $368 million in the six months to February this year.
Centrelink’s biggest outstanding debt was $197,485, paid to an aged pensioner who lived overseas for 15 years.
The agencies collected $114 million last financial year – just 16 per cent of the value of debts referred to them by Centrelink.
The report shows 7015 people still owe Centrelink more than $10,000 – with the average debt $20,000.
National Welfare Rights Network president Maree O’Halloran yesterday questioned why debt collectors had been sent after a 99-year-old.
“You wonder about the efficacy of it, and the human part of someone being hassled and harassed at 99 years of age,” she said.
Ms O’Halloran said the debts were rarely deliberate.
“It’s almost always someone’s made a mistake – either Centrelink or the person (receiving the payment),” she said.
The report shows Centrelink “over-recovered” debts from 7021 Australians, who ended up paying back $6.3 million more than they were supposed to.
People on welfare benefits are able to pay back their debts gradually, usually through a 15 per cent reduction in their payments.