Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon highlights Centrelink debt debacle

Many of these debts actually do not exist

HUNTER MP Joel Fitzgibbon marked the first day of Parliament for 2017 with a speech in the House of Representatives about an issue critical to hundreds of Hunter constituents.

Fitzgibbon’s 90-second statement highlighted the government’s current Centrelink crisis and the debacle surrounding automated debt recovery.

“This must stop,” he said.

“Constituents in my electorate are getting letters from external debt collectors before being given any opportunity to respond, appeal or have the decision reviewed.

“This is a government out of control and dysfunctional.

“It is deceiving constituents on a regular basis.

“The Turnbull-Joyce government stands condemned for its treatment of Centrelink clients: the elderly, the sick, students, and people in genuine need of assistance.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said the government must restore Centrelink’s resources.

“This is now becoming a crisis for too many people,” he explained.

“The government also stands condemned for the way it has been pursuing people for so-called Centrelink debts.

“Many of these debts actually do not exist and many of them go back so far – in some cases in my electorate for seven years or more – and people are not in the position to challenge the debt.

“They no longer have the pay slips and the records from seven years ago.”

During the 2016 Parliamentary year, Mr Fitzgibbon championed important issues to the Hunter including Medicare, Centrelink, Gonski education funding, flying foxes, NDIS and access to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

He encourages Hunter constituents to make contact with his office about federal government issues like Centrelink, Medicare and NDIS to provide case studies so he can continue to present a strong voice in Parliament for those in his electorate.