Previous debts raised where a person didn’t respond to the welfare agency will also be methodically worked through, to clarify whether a debt is still owed and for customers who are affected, their debts will be frozen.
For debts with existing reviews in process, more information will be needed “before ultimately raising a debt”.
Centrelink’s online debt recovery system has been in place since 2015, and matches a person’s declared income to the agency with annual data reported to the Australian Taxation Office.
If more income has been reported to the tax office, recipients are required to prove they don’t owe a debt to the department. Under the first iteration of the system, debts were raised against people who hadn’t engaged with the department at all.
The system, dubbed “robodebt”, has been criticised for averaging a person’s income across 26 fortnights, which doesn’t recognise casual, part-time or intermittent work, and forcing people to find years’ old pay slips and bank statements.
Government Services Minister Stuart Robert has been contacted for comment.