Senate Secrets #6: The 6 Week Rule – How Centerlink’s top management get paid bonuses even when they break the law and welfare recipients are ripped off!

“Centrelink does not collect ‘Post Breaching Terminal Outcome Statistics’ and is therefore unable to assist with your request for this information.”(Assistant Secretary Neil Skill, May 18th 2010.)

Centrelink may not be interested in collecting the statistical data on post breaching fatalities but Centrelink is most definitely interested in collecting over-payments that under Paragraph 1,237A of the Social Security Act, are supposed to be waived, i.e. Centrelink MUST NOT seek to reclaim this money. In February 2012, Centrelink made a mistake and paid a Queensland mum, Judy Lorbek, a staggering $2 Million.  If Centrelink had taken just 1 second more than 1008 hours, i.e. 6 weeks, then Ms Lorbek could have legally kept that $2 Million!

 Grave Digger #24:  Paragraph 1,237A of the Social Security Act – The ‘6 Week Rule”.

This is another example of how to ‘hide the truth in plain sight’ where no-one can find it unless they are told about it.

 Here then is the actual text of this almost unknown Centrelink ‘Top Secret” law: 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 (2) If: (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.Proportion of a debt (3) For the purposes of this section, a proportion of a debt may be 100% of the debt.

100% of the debt means you get to keep the any overpayments. Unfortunately for Ms Lorbek, Centrelink found the error before the 1008 hour time frame expired and therefore Centrelink could reclaim the $2 Million. Even more unfortunately for Ms Lorbek, she had spent some of this money and was not able to repay the full $2 million and so Centrelink prosecuted her for fraud. So, they make the mistake but it was Ms Lorbek who was prosecuted!!!

 WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU? THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS TO KNOW ARE:

  1. If you are a welfare recipient and you have been over-paid by Centrelink, the 6 Week Rule has huge implications.
  2. If it was Centrelink’s mistake and more than 6 weeks have passed, then (at best) only the over-payments from the last 6 weeks can legally be claimed by Centrelink although the ‘Secretary’ (the CEO) is supposed to waive 100% of the debt.
  3. HOWEVER, Centrelink’s top 3 levels of management receive annual “productivity bonuses” worth thousands of dollars which are paid for such “productivity” activities as recovering over-payments and this is a financial incentive for Centrelink’s top management and rogue CSOs (Customer Service Officers) to ignore the law as set out in paragraph 1,237A.
  4. Before you ask me what are the chances that Centrelink’s top management would do that, remember that Centrelink’s ‘top brass’ managers are the people who have NEVER ever reported even one of the many fatalities caused by breaching activity!
  5. PROVE THE DEBT! Not you! Centrelink has to do that!
  6. If you received an email supposedly from your bank or credit union stating that you had been over-paid $5,000 and they wanted your bank account details so that they could ‘reclaim’ this money, would you send off an email with your bank account details and PIN number?
  7. Absolute idiots might do that but most sensible people would delete the email or refer it to the police for investigation.
  8. Strangely, when Centrelink pulls this scam with a demand for over-payments to be repaid, many welfare recipients race down to Centrelink to organize repayments at a lower rate than Centrelink is demanding!!! Doing that is simply declaring to the fraudsters that you are an easy victim.
  9. No matter what amount you agree to repay, you can expect letters of demand that hike the repayments to arrive within months of you agreeing to be ripped off.

 COPING WITH THE 6 WEEK RULE FRAUD:

  1. Centrelink has to prove that you owe a debt and even if you have been over-paid, the 6 Week Rule means that you do not have to repay it UNLESS you are dumb enough to agree to do so.
  2. Even if you do not have copies of the information that you provided to Centrelink, the onus is on Centrelink to prove that you made the mistake.
  3. With the $2 Million over-payment to Ms Lorbek, it is easy for you to prove that Centrelink makes mistakes with payments but you do not have to do this.
  4. The Centrelink rogues try to BLUFF you and they imply that you have to prove that you provided the correct information but this is a bullying bluff that involves the crime ofs Misrepresentation and Malfeasance. Convictions for these crimes means, at the least, automatic dismissal from Centrelink.
  5. If they threaten to cut off the dole or prosecute you, ask for them to immediately confirm that statement in writing so that you can provide it to the Ombudsman or the Federal Police!

To cope with this fraudulent activity, you may wish to follow the following steps.

  1. Make at least 5 copies of the Centrelink letter and put the original copy, with its envelope, in a safe place and DO NOT give it Centrelink because it is evidence of an attempt to commit fraud. Immediately post one copy to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office in your state/territory with a letter pointing out that Centrelink is misusing lawful authority to coerce and intimidate into making repayments that are covered by paragraph 1,237A of the Social Security Act – make sure that you copy and paste the about text of the 6 Week Rule into your letter.
  2. OPTIONAL:- Request that a fraud investigation be undertaken too determine the extent of this rip-off by Centrelink which may have netted Centrelink about $200 Million in the last year alone. You could also point out that Ombudsman should check complaint “2012-109928” for more deatils. After posting that letter make an appointment to talk to a Centrelink CSO about Centrelink’s fraudulent letter of demand and provide the CSO with both a copy of Centrelink’s letter and a copy of your letter to the Ombudsman.
  3. IMPORTANT: You need to complain to the Ombudsman BEFORE talking to Centrelink because if you do not, some Centrelink CSO’s may try to threaten YOU with “penalties”, “serious action” or even a fraud investigation if you refuse to pay the debt.
  4. You need to be 1st on the draw and by complaining to the Ombudsman, Centrelink is put in the awkward position of then having to explain why the 6 Week Rule was not complied with.
  5. KEEP IN MIND: You may be just 1 person but if the Ombudsman receives dozens or hundreds (or thousands) of similar complaints, then it is going to Centrelink officials and not welfare recipients who wind up facing fraud prosecutions.
  6. Copy #3 of Centrelink’s letter of demand goes to one of the senators in your state whilst copy #4 goes to the federal MP who represents your electorate.
  7. DO demand an explanation from these politicains as to as why Centrelink has deliberately ignored the 6 Week Rule and misused lawful authority in an attempt to intimidate and coerce you into making repayments that you lawfully do not have to make.
  8. Also demand to know why Centrelink bureaucrats are being paid 4% “productivity bonuses” for ignoring this fraudulent activity.

 WHAT CAN I DO BECAUSE I MADE A MISTAKE AND HAVE BEEN OVER-PAID AS A RESULT?

Be proactive and avoid a fraud prosecution by contracting Centrelink and explaining that you “may” have made a mistake and “might” be being paid too much.

  1. By getting in 1st and admitting that you may have made an “error”, it makes it extremely difficult for Centrelink to prosecute a fraud case in court unless you have been working under a false name and have never told Centrelink!
  2. If that is the case, then as Centrelink’s general manager, Hank Jongen, said on Today Tonight in May last year, “We will get you”!
  3. If you ARE genuinely, knowingly ripping off Centrelink, then I cannot help you other than pray for you.

 SURVIVING A CENTRELINK RULE RIP-OFF.

The key to survival is the old Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”

  1. Do keep all copies of the letters Centrelink gives to you.
  2. DO ensure that when you provide information to Centrelink, do it in writing and get a stamped or receipted copy.
  3. ALWAYS, print out a receipt if you report income on-line and take 2 copies of letters or documents to Centrelink.
  4. Have the CSO photocopy the original documents for Centrelink records and have your second copy ‘certified’ as a true copy by using his/her official stamp. Don’t get your original documents stamped, only the your photocopies.
  5. Can’t afford all these phgotocpies? Then ask the Centrelink CSO to make two copies of the original, politely explaining that the 2nd copy is so that he/she can stamp them as proof that you ‘tendered’ these documents to Centrelink. It is your legal right to make this requestand any refusal to comply should be written down, prefereably with the CSO watching you write down a record of this refusal. Believe it when I tell you that such hand written records of interviews are accepted as evidence in court. (You can even let the CSO read your notes and then ask that they either be stamped or typed into the record of interview!)

 REMEMBER – THE 6 Week Rule says the Secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of a debt that is attributable solely to an administrative error.

If Centrelink over-pays you and they do not find out for 5 years, they will almost certainly try to recover that money but YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY and any attempt to intimidate or coerce (bully or threaten) you is a criminal offense.

 

WELFARE RECIPIENTS HAVE RIGHTS AND THE 6 WEEK RULE IS ONE OF THEM SO DON’T BE BULLIED INTO BEING RIPPED-OFF BY BUREAUCRATS WHO GET PAID BIG BONUSES FOR DOING SO.

 Ronald Medlicott (Christian advocate of welfare justice.)

 Christians and Jews and people of integrity take note:

Proverbs 31, verses 8 – 9 states, “Speak up for the people who cannot defend themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak out for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor.”

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Senate Secrets #6: The 6 Week Rule – How Centerlink’s top management get paid bonuses even when they break the law and welfare recipients are ripped off!

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