Paragraph 1237A Waiver of debt arising from Centrelink’s error.
The following text comes from Paragraph 1,237A of the Social Security Act. Buried in almost 3,000 pages of legislation contained in two seperate Acts of Parliament, even most lawyers do not know of its existance and have therefore given clients wrong advice. Not everyone qualifies for exemption – the mistake has to be 100% Centrelink’s fault. Centrelink DOES make mistakes – with 6.8 Million clients the avearage error of 3.5% sounds really small but in terms of numbers, it represents over 225,000 errors! It is no wonder that Centrelink management prefer to report the percentage error rate rather than the numerical error rate. In FY 2009-10, Centrelink “saved” $101.4 Million by demanding repayment of “debts” caused by over-payment. However, if most of this was due to Centrelink errors, then they are not entitled to this money. IF you were conned or intimidated in making repayments for a Centrelink error, can you get your money back? YES, you can, by filing an Administrative Appeal.
1,237A Waiver of debt arising from error.
(1) Subject to subsection (1A), the Secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of a debt that is attributable solely to an administrative error made by the Commonwealth if the debtor received in good faith the payment or payments that gave rise to that proportion of the debt.
Note: Subsection (1) does not allow waiver of a part of a debt that was caused partly by administrative error and partly by one or more other factors (such as error by the debtor).
(1A) Subsection (1) only applies if:
(a) the debt is not raised within a period of 6 weeks from the first payment that caused the debt; or
(b) if the debt arose because a person has complied with a notification obligation, the debt is not raised within a period of 6 weeks from the end of the notification period;
whichever is the later.
Underestimating value of property
(a) a debt arose because the debtor or the debtor’s partner underestimated the value of particular property of the debtor or partner; and
(b) the estimate was made in good faith; and
(c) the value of the property was not able to be easily determined when the estimate was made;
the Secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of the debt attributable to the underestimate. (NOTE: The source text is not in red nor is the word “must” underlined.)
Proportion of a debt
(3) For the purposes of this section, a proportion of a debt may be 100% of the debt.
NOTE: (1) All bold and underling are done by me for emphasis. This formatting is not part of the original text.
(2) After weeks of waiting for ALP and Liberal politicians to supply this vital updated information, I asked Greens senator, Rachel Siewert, who promimised to have her staff (re)locate it for me. It was provided with 24 hours.
(3) That is not an endorsement of the Greens, merely a statement of fact. As a Christian, some of the Greens policies do not fit well with my beliefs but it is appropriate to give credit where credit is due and Senator Siewert and her staff were incredibly efficient and helpful.
Ron Medlicott (Christian welfare justice activist.)