Please stop the Centrelink debt fabrication debacle

Dear The Hon C Porter MP

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, is disappointed that the Australian Government decided to defraud vulnerable autistic people and that it chooses to discourage autistic people from working.

Your government’s latest debt fabrication scheme

  1. takes money from autistic people who made the effort to get some employment, and

  2. sends a clear message to unemployed autistic people that unless they can get a permanent full-time job, they should not try to get work at all.

If autistic people get temporary of part time work, apart from the disincentive of the highest effective marginal tax rate on what they are paid, they will spend their time trying to disentangle themselves from Centrelink’s new extortion scheme that fabricates debt for welfare recipients.

Apparently, you believe that many people with disability who depend on welfare payments deliberately provide misinformation about their employment to your Department in order to receive payments that they are not entitled to. However, this is not reality … from what we can see, the Department has complex systems that are difficult for people to comply with and cause frequent data inconsistencies. It is unjust and derogatory for you to ignore the flaws in your systems and blame the consequent mess on welfare recipients.

With this new debt fabrication scheme in place, people who cannot transition to permanent full-time work are better off avoiding temporary or part-time work altogether. Which substantially reduces their prospects for permanent or long-term full-time employment.

People are losing confidence in government and its processes; they come to distrust a government that extorts money that it is not owed.

It seems from numerous media reports, you are intent on trying to justify this government “initiative” that treats vulnerable people as guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

The notorious difficulty contacting Centrelink make complains unlikely or even impossible … so the claim that just a few complaints made it into the system just shows that people expect making complaints to Centrelink is difficult (nigh impossible) and pointless; people have taken their issues to other politicians, the media, the ombudsman, etc. instead. The avalanche of complaints through those sources support A4's argument. A4 observes that you are unresponsive and unsympathetic to the vulnerable people who your processes caught up in this cruel fiasco. The following links are just some of the media attention:

A wise man said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”. Shamefully, Australia is treating its most vulnerable very poorly indeed.

Pressurising vulnerable people and cutting welfare leads to deaths, as was shown in Britain over similar policies. Here are a few of the media articles …

Please stop the Centrelink debt fabrication debacle. Stop denigrating people with disability as this makes employers unwilling to employ them.

Instead, please get the NDIS computer systems working. It’s been over 6 months since some of A4's members could login and see their NDIS resource allocation and usage. There is so much work to be done on the NDIS and associated disability policy.

sincerely,

--
Bob Buckley
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)
website: http://a4.org.au/

cc: The Hon Jane Prentice MP <jane.prentice.mp@aph.gov.au>, The Hon A Tudge MP <alan.tudge.mp@aph.gov.au>

12/1/2017

A4 is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate.

“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one.” Jeff Daniels as Will McEvoy in The Newsroom.


A4 also sent a version of this letter to The Hon M Turnbull MP, The Prime Minister (see download link below).


Subject: Auto-Reply
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:22:14 +0000
From: Minister <Minister@dss.gov.au>
To: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>

Thank you for your email to the Hon Christian Porter MP, Minister for Social Services. This is an automatically generated response.

Due to the large volume of emails received, the office is unable to acknowledge receipt of each email personally.

Your email is important and we will deal with it as soon as possible.

Response times will vary depending on the complexity of the issues raised.

Thank you again for your email.

The Hon. Christian Porter MP

Minister for Social Services

http://christianporter.dss.gov.au/

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