From ABC, August 23, 2006
Welfare group applauds Centrelink crackdown
Welfare groups have welcomed news that Centrelink has disciplined hundreds of its staff who have been caught inappropriately accessing customers' records.
Nineteen Centrelink staff have been sacked and almost 100 others have quit after they were caught accessing the files during a two-year internal Centrelink investigation.
Hundreds of others are facing salary deductions or fines, and five cases have been referred to the Australian Federal Police.
The head of the National Welfare Rights Network, Michael Raper, says he is glad Centrelink has addressed the problem.
"Centrelink is on to it. Centrelink has really cracked down in the last two years," he said.
"It was too slack, it was too lax in the previous management, so I congratulate the current management over taking these steps to clamp down on this."
Mr Raper says the news is disturbing for Centrelink's customers.
"Centrelink has a mountain of information collected and they demand that from you, the law does, the Parliament requires that," he said.
"Hence we believe, and it's obvious, and Centrelink also seems to now be enforcing this, that it is incredibly important for all Centrelink staff to have very, very, high standards of confidentiality."From ABC, August 23, 2006
Howard praises Centrelink tampering response
The Prime Minister has praised Centrelink's reaction after hundreds of staff were caught inappropriately accessing customers' records.
A two-year investigation found 600 Centrelink staff members had been looking at and changing records of friends and family.
Centrelink has sacked 19 of its workers and another 92 have resigned after being confronted with the allegations; others are facing disciplinary action.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are also investigating five of the cases.
John Howard says the department has dealt well with the problem.
"Anybody who abuses a position of trust should incur penalties and consequences," he said.
"The important point to make is that the issue has been dealt with effectively and expeditiously by Centrelink."
But the federal Opposition Leader says the fact disciplinary action was taken against the Centrelink staff shows there are larger problems with the delivery of government services.
Mr Beazley says the Government must work on improving the delivery of its services and accept some of the blame for the problem.
"It's good that Centrelink detects it, but it's bad that it actually developed," he said.
"We have had a Government which has been great on spin in the 10 years it's been in office, hopeless on delivery and part of delivery is competent administration."
Another possibility, not to take so much information on board.
Somebody said, that for this reason of data mining and inappropriate use of information prevents from signing organ donor papers.
And the argument was that there is danger that somebody might turn the switch off just because of perfect match compatibility with somebody waiting for organ.
We can say unethical and we will be probably right, but better to be wrong and alive.