Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Swan Is Scaremongering Over Data Matching

Opposition spokesman on family and community services, Wayne Swan, has once again stooped to blatant scaremongering by claiming that the Government will force pensioners to sell their homes to repay money received above their entitlement, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

“Mr Swan has described himself as ‘frequently mischievous’. Once again he has proved that to be true. Although I clearly stated in the Senate that pensioners will not have to sell their home to repay amounts they have been overpaid, he continues to run scare campaigns based on false claims,” she said.

“The Government has an obligation to use taxpayer funds properly by ensuring the correct payment of entitlements. Where pensioners did not report income, they received more than others in similar circumstances and they are required to repay the amount overpaid.

“If someone owes a substantial debt to Centrelink, then Centrelink will seek to come to a reasonable arrangement with them to recover the money, but it does not threaten to sell the homes of pensioners.

“The total financial situation of the customer is considered before any repayments or recovery action is commenced. If some or all of the money can’t be recovered by reasonable repayment or withholding arrangements, then ultimately the money can be recovered from the estate.

“In addition, all customers can seek to have any arrangements or decision in this regard reviewed and appealed.”