LABOR ASKS AUDITOR-GENERAL TO ASSESS PLAGUED EARLY RELEASE SUPER SCHEME

STEPHEN JONES MP.
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1 month ago
LABOR ASKS AUDITOR-GENERAL TO ASSESS PLAGUED EARLY RELEASE SUPER SCHEME
STEPHEN JONES MP
Labor has asked the Auditor-General to investigate the Morrison Government’s troubled robo-release early access scheme.
 
The scheme was set up in March to provide a last line of support to people hit by the coronavirus.
 
But repeated scandals have shown that the Government has bungled the scheme from top to bottom.
 
In May, the scheme was frozen when the AFP uncovered evidence that sophisticated criminal were using the scheme to steal super from unsuspecting Australians.
 
The ABC’s 7:30 program told the story of Daniel Bunten, who had $9,000 stolen from him through the Government’s scheme.
 
Hundreds of other Australians may have also faced the same issues. It is not clear how many have been hit by super thieves – because the threat was not detected by the ATO, but by an employee at a super fund.
 
In June, the ATO announced it would commence investigations into individuals who had accessed the scheme on incorrect grounds.
 
Poor communication and misleading promotion of the scheme – including by Government senators – may mean that some have accessed the scheme incorrectly.
 
This could leave well-intentioned individuals struggling with the costs of the coronavirus pandemic facing fines of up to $12,600.
 
And in July, senior public servants conceded that the early release scheme may result in Australians losing access to JobSeeker and other income support.
 
And now the Government has secretly extended the scheme through for three months with no parliamentary review.
 
The Government had a choice at the start of this pandemic. It could have provided support Australians needed – paid pandemic leave, wage support, and economic stimulus.
 
Instead, it chose to ask them to raid their retirement savings through a poorly-implemented robo-release scheme.

This scheme has now also failed to meet the legislated purpose set by Parliament in March.
 
The Auditor-General should take a close look and see how many more failures have slipped under the radar.
Finance