Contributed from Victoria
That the Greens and Labor are against Centrelink’s new debt recovery system.
They are getting together to push for an inquiry into Centrelink’s automated debt recovery system will be welcome by the tens of thousands of Centrelink victims.
The Turnbull government has shown by its inaction that it will avoid applying some justice by any means it can. It is now beyond all possible doubt that the system is punitive and inaccurate. A failure to act signifies that those without a wage in the labor market are there to be punished, no matter what the circumstances.
To claim that the objective is to stamp out rorting is a joke, when it comes form a government only too happy to support a massive corporate tax avoidance industry. There is a clear double standard in this.
Now that Labor and the Greens are forcing a Senate inquiry into the issue, it may at the least provide some respite for the victims.
Labor’s Doug Cameron and the Greens’ Rachel Siewert gave notice of the motion on Tuesday, with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and the Nick Xenophon group expected to support establishment of the inquiry, which should lead to a far-ranging probe
Meanwhile, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which covers Centrelink staff, has launched its own six days of targeted action over the debt recovery issue, as well as for improved working conditions. Centrelink staff morale has plummeted, because they are often made into the scapegoats for government policy and practices. They want to do the right thing by those people they deal with,but face a barrage of obstacles that prevents them from doing so. The extent of whistleblowing coming from staff, despite the heavy pressure from management, indicates that the debt system is not liked by those who have to operate it.
The debt controversy has had a major impact on the unemployed, disabled, single parents aged people, and students. Justice cries out for this to be stopped.
However, this issue should not be seen as a stand-alone problem. It is part of an apparatus that is systemically organised as a tool for punishment of those seeking help and not seen as a valuable input into the economy, by those who manage it.
Centrelink as a whole, needs to be put under scrutiny and examined as to why its purpose is not to care for the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society. If Australia believes in the principle of a fair go, we must insist that the Centrelink system is replaced by a system that actually does care about people.