Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Media release: Handy guide to Labor's record on 'robodebt'

17 September 2019

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

If people fail to come to an arrangement to settle their debts, the Government has a responsibility to taxpayers to recover that money.’
Tanya Plibersek, Media Release, 29 June 2011

‘The automation of this process will free up resources and result in more people being referred to the tax garnishee process, retrieving more outstanding debt on behalf of taxpayers.’
Bill Shorten, Media Release, 29 June 2011

‘It is important that the Government explores different means of debt recovery to ensure that those who have received more money than they are entitled to repay their debt.’
Chris Bowen, Media Release, 15 June 2010

‘I think most people would expect that we have a rigorous checking system, and covert surveillance is one of our, as I say, one of the weapons in our armoury. We have data matching, where we check our records against the Tax Office’s records to make sure that is all adds up and there’s not people who are paying tax on a job who are also claiming welfare.’
Chris Bowen, Interview with Stuart Bocking, 7 April 2010

‘We want to make sure that people aren't receiving welfare to which they're not entitled to. And no one gets a leave pass on that.’
Bill Shorten, doorstop interview, Redcliffe Hospital, 9 May 2019



The Income Compliance process compares the information provided by a person to Centrelink with the income reported to the Australian Taxation Office from paid employment. Centrelink makes an assessment based on this information, then contacts the individual alerting them that there may be a discrepancy and to contact the Department. No debt has been raised at this point—the Department is simply asking the individual to explain why the income they declared to Centrelink is different from the income declared to the Australian Taxation Office. Under the current Income Compliance process, the outcome of every review is reached via a decision by a compliance officer.

In 20 per cent of cases, individuals are able to explain the discrepancy by providing further information such as pay slips or bank statements. This is the process working as it is intended—not an error rate as has been claimed by Labor. In 80 per cent of cases there is a debt, and less than one per cent of these cases are overturned on formal appeal.


Page last updated: 17 September 2019