Monday, September 04, 2006

Centrelink chicanery

Item 1. Deceptive practise 
DH is gobsmacked at the depths of chicanery* to which Howard's Centrelink has sunk in order to save itself $400  - money that means nothing to the taxpayer but means quite simply that she is now absolutely destitute and reliant on food vouchers, is under financial house arrest as she and her daughter have less than $10 left in the world. Her first Centrelink payment after a month of unemployment will be $11 (as the Department of Housing has first claim due to its direct debit arrangement)
DH's job ended on 3rd August. She rang up Centrelink on that day to claim Newstart or a Carer's Pension. (You can verify this for yourself on this blog for the 3rd of August).  Due to the obvious misinformation suppled by the young call centre operator, she told Centrelink that she would call back when she had made an informed decision. (DH has now heard from Centrelink insiders that Centrelink's call centre operators are indeed as ill-informed and poorly trained as they sound, thanks to high staff turnover in an impossible job)

She was assured that provided she called back within 2 weeks, her claim would be backdated to the 3rd.
DH rang back on the 7th August notifying her intention to claim Newstart. She duly received a letter stating that her claim had been rec'd,  along with a page of details that does not look anything like a usual Centrelink form, but which apparently was meant to be signed and sent in by the 16th.
DH was not informed of any of this verbally, all she knew was that she had done everything required of her, had made an appointment for a phone interview, and trusted that everything was OK, Being busy, she did not read the small print, She still had sufficient trust as an Australian citizen to believe that information given by phone, (with receipt number) in such a serious matter could be trusted.
At her intake interview in Parker St however, she was shocked to discover that because she had not sent in this form, her claim would only start 2 weeks later. The phone receipt counted for nothing, because Centrelink did not record a reason for the call. How convenient for them,to assume that DH had merely rung up for a bitter of a natter about this and that, totally unrelated to a need to get sustenance.
If this is not chicanery, what is?
Item 2. Holiday pay scam
DH also found that as she had 13 days holiday pay coming to her, her Centrelink payment would be delayed too weeks. While DH considers this ethically outrageous,  (as it penalises workers who do not claim their holiday pay out of a misguided sense of responsibility. DH wishes now that she had taken more leave from her job. She has been far too generous to her ungrateful employer), Nevertheless this is a rule not a scam.
The scam is that this holiday pay period does not start from the date that work ends, but from the date that the employer actually pays you. DH;s employer gave her her holiday pay a week late. It's pure chicanery on Centrelink's part that they penalise her a weeks pension because her employer paid her late.,
If this is not chicanery, what is?
chicanery. –noun, plural -er-ies.
1. trickery or deception by quibbling or sophistry: He resorted to the worst flattery and chicanery to win the job.
2. a quibble or subterfuge used to trick, deceive, or evade.
 3. the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them) [syn: trickery, chicane, guile, wile, shenanigan]

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