Queensland’s Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Cameron Dick MP, has been slammed in Parliament by the Member for Kawana, Jarrod Bleijie, for sending in debt collectors to recoup alleged overpayments that occurred six years ago for debts as low as $300.
Using an adjournment speech to highlight the issue, Mr Bleijie described the matter as serious and provided examples of constituents who have contacted Mr Bleijie in desperation after receiving letters from the Health Minister’s department advising them that debt collectors would be used to collect alleged overpayments.
Mr Bleijie said it was absurd that ex-employees were only now being contacted, some six years after the Queensland Health payroll debacle, only to be threatened and bullied into re-paying overpayments that can’t be proved by Queensland Health.
“I have personally seen the documentation that has been issued and quite frankly it’s an absolute mess,” Mr Bleijie said.
“There are multiple discrepancies, they can’t provide original records, and the mere existence and accuracy of the alleged overpayments has not been demonstrated by Queensland Health.”
In one case, Mr Bleijie said a nurse was allegedly overpaid $300 which is currently in dispute and has now been escalated to debt recovery by the Minister’s department.
“I have personally written to the Minister for Health requesting his immediate intervention, but to date he has been unwilling to act,” Mr Bleijie said.
“Apart from the obvious stress and anxiety this is causing nurses and other ex-employees, it’s an absolute waste of tax payers’ money; spending thousands in administration costs to recover an amount as little as $300 that cannot even be proven.”
Mr Bleijie said his office is currently assisting three former nurses living in Kawana who have been targeted by Queensland Health, one of which has just given birth to her first child.
“Labor’s Queensland Health payroll debacle has already cost tax payers $1.2B, it has caused deep trauma for many who were affected and now, some six years later, Labor wants our nurses to dig into their own pockets to pay for their failure,” Mr Bleijie said.