Saturday, June 15, 2024

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HomeUncategorizedCentrelink legislation is in drastic need of reform

Centrelink legislation is in drastic need of reform


The Social Security Act and Social Security (Amendments) Act each contain over 1,000 sections, most of which are designed to deny people payments, and many of which are in contradiction to other legislation.

Lottery wins, insurance payments and inheritances, when paid in more than one payment, are not classified as income by the Australian Taxation office, but they are by Centrelink.

Further, Centrelink use income averaging to calculate a fortnightly “income” amount over a twelve month period, a practice which was found to be illegal in the Robodebt court cases. This affects tens of thousands of people on Centrelink benefits each year, right across Australia.

The legal age for voting is 18, but Centrelink expect parents to support their children until they are 22.

That is, of course, unless the parent is receiving a carer’s payment for a disabled child, in which case Centrelink consider the child an adult at age 16, and carer’s payment is cancelled.

Carers for disabled people are paid about $400 a week to care for people with disabilities, about $10 an hour. If they decide to supplement this with other work, their carer’s payment is reduced or cancelled. Centrelink consider their payment to be welfare, whereas it is actually a job.

Taxation law considers each partner in a relationship to be financially independent, as it should be. However Centrelink considers that if one person in the relationship is working, the benefits of the other partner are reduced or cancelled.

This means the non-working partner is completely dependent on the working partner, and has no financial independence. The result for tens of thousands of men and women is domestic violence in the form of economic coercion.

MPs elected prior to 2004 are able to collect a hefty pension for life, and still work full time in high paying jobs, but Centrelink cancels payments to aged pensioners if they dare to get a job.

The aged pension was set up in the 1950s as a reward for working and paying taxes, but Centrelink now regard it as welfare.

These are just a few of the examples of how Centrelink works against Australia’s most vulnerable, and it is time Human Services Minister Amanda Rishworth did her job and amended this legislation.

Craig Hill, Craig Hill Consultancy Services, Brisbane

We have offered the right of reply to Centrelink.

PHOTO: Queue outside the Alice Springs Centrelink office.


  1. Please let me pose a couple of questions in order to provide balance:
    • Can taxpayers be expected to continue to pay unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of people, while at the same time bringing in overseas workers to try and fill job vacancies?
    • Should people who decline available jobs continue to be eligible for unemployment benefits?
    • How much longer will taxpayers be deceived by the government about the true levels of unemployment?
    Doomsday is coming. An ageing population, fewer taxpayers, more welfare dependents …

  2. I recommend everyone to read the report “Basic income: a radical idea enters the mainstream.”
    I recall serious discussions of the savings for government in the 1970s.
    Providing Guaranteed Income for all Australians could pay everyone, with those receiving other incomes subject to tax on their other incomes, with refunds available when tax returns filed.
    The Social Security Act, and Centrelink public servants could be transferred to other departments.
    This may encourage more to seek additional incomes topping up their incomes, particularly those currently on Centrelink payments.
    Employers and employees may no longer feel need keep hiding their various hidden cash transfers.

  3. Hi Craig, what a brilliant article. I run a small consultancy (My Age Pension) helping clients understand, access, maximise and maintain the age pension. Your article is spot on. The inequities of the system are mind boggling.
    For those who think of the age pension as welfare, remember that those who are accessing the age pension today did not have the benefit of superannuation their whole lives.
    And they were told that the age pension would be their reward for working and paying taxes.
    In fact, they were told that a percentage of their taxes was being put aside to pay for the age pension. But this only happened for a few years before the pool of funds was tipped back into consolidated revenue and spent.
    If you think about it, the age pension was the superannuation for that generation.
    Imagine if you told the current generation that their superannuation balances were going to be tipped back into consolidated revenue and spent. A
    And that if they want an income in retirement, they will be income and assets tested and called welfare recipients.


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