Thursday, 19 January 2017

GetUp accuses gov of Centrelink fraud - whistle blower reveals all in letter

Update: full whistle blower letter here.

Another whistle blower has come forward, by way of which they have sent a long letter to GetUp, the claims being verified by other whistle blowers that have gone to The Guardian. 

The letter reveals that management of the system includes telling staff not to fix errors even when they can see it in front of their faces, and to only take action when the error is pointed out by the customer. This indicates the gov is engaging in fraud on the Australian people.

From the email:

A Centrelink whistleblower has exposed a massive government fraud inflicted on tens of thousands of Australians -- in a letter sent exclusively to GetUp.

The media's already reported on dozens of cases of everyday Australians receiving clearly false debt claims from Centrelink. But that's just the "tip of the iceberg," according to the courageous Centrelink compliance officer, who's risking his job to expose the truth.

His explosive 8-page letter details exactly how the Turnbull Government's automated debt program is systematically fabricating claims. Most shockingly, Centrelink staff "are told … we must not make any attempt to fix the error[s] or our work will be returned as wrong."

Key claims in the letter have been independently verified today by The Guardian.

The Turnbull Government can no longer run or hide from this colossal fraud. We need to turn up the pressure, tightening the screws on all sides, to get them to dump this cruel system.

Here are five of the key frauds exposed in the whistleblower's letter: 
  • Doubling Income. A person's entire income from the same employer is doubled up, or specific income – like leave and termination payments – are duplicated. 
  • Non-Assessable Income. Items like expense reimbursements for petrol and paid parental leave payments are wrongly counted as income. 
  • Fictitious Payments. The system generates debts based on payments that Centrelink never even made. False Recovery Fees. Recovery fees are applied when they shouldn't and can be much larger than the set fee of 10%. 
  • Corrupted Review. Compliance officers are directed not to fix these errors, even when they have the evidence. On appeal, errors will only be corrected if the person specifically identifies them, which can be nearly impossible. 
From The Guardian:
But many other claims in the letter are new. The whistleblower said compliance officers were being expressly told not to fix errors generated by the automated system, even when they could prove the debts were wrong.

The whistleblower alleges that the teams were told they should only correct errors if they were identified by customers, who were rarely in a position to understand the complex factors behind their debt.

Compliance officers have also been told they cannot consider evidence the customer has already provided, including documentation to prove they were not working, or payslips previously provided to Centrelink.

“Within the organisation it is well known that that there are errors in the program and compliance officers are directed to ignore incorrect debts without being permitted to correct them,” the official said.

“When we report errors, it falls on deaf ears or we are told that the issue is already known and we must not make any attempt to fix the error or our work will be returned as wrong and we will have to cancel the corrections.”
This accords with the story of a separate compliance officer, who spoke to Guardian Australia last month. The Guardian
You can send a letter in protest to your MP here via GetUp