A handful of protesters have parked themselves in front of Liberal MP Alan Tudge's office, protesting the Centrelink #notmydebt saga with an abundance of chants and issuing his office with a "debt notice" of $300 million.
On Wednesday afternoon, about seven protesters sat in front of the Human Services Minister's electorate office in Victoria streaming the entire event on Periscope, as they called for Centrelink's automatic debt recovery system to be abolished.
The group played mock Centrelink hold music, and chanted "Hey Tudge, we won't budge" before being moved on by police at 2:35pm.
— Asher Wolf (@Asher_Wolf) January 18, 2017
The protest lasted about an hour, but when they arrived protester Kieran Bennett said "it looks like everyone's gone out to lunch".
Electorate staff were present but there was not sign of the human services minister, which the protesters claimed didn't matter, because their protests are far from over.
"We're coming for you all year, Alan," the group chanted once they were moved onto the lawn outside the building.
You can watch the entire protest here:
The protesters are calling for the automated debt recovery system to be abolished, with one man shouting "if they want 300 million bucks, take it from the rich".
The Centrelink debt recovery scandal has been one of the mounting issues for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2017.
Centrelink has told clients to pay their alleged debts regardless of whether they're incorrect or in dispute.
In January, many Australians claimed they were issued with thousands of dollars worth of debt they didn't owe, spending hours on phone calls disputing the alleged debts. Tudge later emerged from holidays to say everything was fine and the system would continue.
"I'm not aware of individuals who are completely convinced that they don't owe money but have been given a debt notice," Tudge said. On Wednesday, Turnbull told reporters "the letters that go out in the first instance are simply saying there is a discrepancy."
"Centrelink has always sought to find explanations from recipients of Centrelink payments in circumstances where there is a discrepancy between the income reported by the recipient to Centrelink and the income reported by their employer," Turnbull said.
"The Government has an obligation to ensure that our very extensive and generous social welfare system is means-tested."
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