Maurice Furlan's story

From a houseboat builder to a single father.

Transition to Retirement – Centrelink Clients BEWARE!

Not long ago, I took steps to transition towards retirement. A financial advisor asked me about the lifestyle that I wished to have after retirement. I told her that my home had long been in need of repair and that my last oversees trip was forty years ago.

She suggested that I top up superannuation, set aside some money for the house, continue work part time, do some community volunteering, claim Social Security, take long service and annual leave and got sailing. 

I crewed on a yacht and sailed across the South China Sea. Naturally, Centrelink suspended payments whilst away. They recommenced when Immigration saw that I had returned to Australia. I continued work on the house and returned to part time work.

Early this year, the opportunity to sail across the Indian Ocean arose. I joined a skipper aboard a 12 meter yacht and we sailed to Madagascar. The trip was not expensive. Airfares amounted to $1500, visas and other graft payments came to $750 and food and fuel cost another $750. It was the trip of a lifetime and apart from being attacked and robbed in Madagascar, I intend to do it again.

This time Centrelink payments did not automatically recommence and my Pension Card was no longer valid. Meanwhile my council rates and car registration arrived. Centrelink had cancelled my pension while I was away and they required me to make a new claim. They decided to stop payments for a further 3 months. When, I questioned them about this and they told me it was because I had money in the bank. I told them that previously I was receiving part payments having declared that I was using the money for ongoing home repairs/renovation.

A Centrelink official claimed, “Relevant Legislation had recently changed” since my previous arrangements. As they have refused my numerous requests to show me the change and the supposed date on which it was changed, I can only conclude that either Centrelink is lying or my previous financial advice was wrong. I have asked Centrelink to review their decision and have contacted them a dozen times in person, by letter and phone. They say that the matter is before an Authorized Review Officer (ARO). 

I lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman 6 months ago. They are waiting for me to tell them when the ARO writes to me about the outcome of their review. Meanwhile the house money is fast running out . I believe that all the officials are lying and cheating and I am not holding my breath for written responses.

There is one positive side to this story. I feel less hard done by the young thieves in Madagascar than the thieves in Minister Michael Keenan’s Rosebud Centrelink Office. 

Centrelink and Ombudsman instructions for complaint resolution is shown above. Contrary to what they say,  they have not resolved my concerns and have ignored my complaints from June 2018. Below is shown the the paper trail of calls, visits and letters to these people which shows a failure of the system. 

I hope you have better luck if you find yourself unfortunate enough to rely on them. 

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