DOLE recipients with outstanding court fines risk having their payments slashed if they don't square off their debts.
DOLE recipients with outstanding court fines risk having their payments slashed if they don't square off their debts. Pixabay

$15m SPER debt revealed as move to target welfare debtors

DOLE recipients with outstanding court fines risk having their payments slashed if they don't square off their debts.

It comes as the Bundaberg region racks up nearly $15million in unpaid fines to the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry.

Under the Federal Government proposal, which aims to crackdown on repeat offenders making little or no effort to repay, deductions would be made from Centrelink payments in order to repay court debt.

Anyone on an outstanding warrant would have their payments cut altogether until they handed themselves in.

Police checks could also be carried out on those applying for Centrelink.

In Bundaberg 6740 residents, who between them have accumulated 40, 703 fines, contribute to the region's shocking SPER debt.

Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan said the purpose of the proposed law was to encourage residents to follow court orders and take responsibility for their actions.

"People should be expected to repay their debt to society,” Mr Tehan said.

"This measure will help Queensland with the clearance of its arrest warrants, as well as helping people with outstanding warrants to avoid jail time.”

The concept has been met with resistance among locals who fiercely oppose welfare reform.

Outspoken Cashless Card opponent and disability pensioner Kathryn Wilkes said this initiative combined with the Indue card would only spark chaos resulting in an increase in both crime and homelessness.

But Mr Tehan said there would be "safeguards” in place to ensure welfare recipients retained a sufficient amount to live on after the fine deduction.

The fines taken into consideration will include speeding tickets.

Parents of young children, who qualify to have their Centrelink payments frozen, will have the sum halved instead.

Our region is a contributor to the state's total of $190 million in unpaid fines.

The proposal, first flagged, during the Federal Budget has yet to be debated by politicians in Canberra.



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