Govt shuts down escape for those with welfare debts

PEOPLE with welfare debts will be chased indefinitely for the money, barred from travelling overseas and face interest charges on the debt.

The Turnbull government has introduced laws to crack down on about 270,000 former welfare recipients it believes are avoiding paying their debts.

Proposed changes include removing a six-year limit on debt recovery of welfare payments, imposing new interest charges on debts and stopping debtors at the border if they try to leave.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the changes would target about 270,000 former welfare recipients who were in work with "the capacity to pay" a total debt of about $270 million.

He said the number and size of the debts some people owed the government was "cause for serious concern".

The changes would not affect those who mistakenly claimed payments but were paying them back, or other welfare recipients with no debt owing.


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