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Debt Collection Issue over Mistaken Identity

Radio News Broadcast

Tom Richardson, Writer, InDaily (5AA 9.49-9.56) Debt collection issue with SA Water over mistaken identity / Cabinet reshuffle / nRAH issues

(Byner: Tom Richardson…) …I opened the mail last night and had a letter from a collection agency operating on behalf of SA Water over an unsettled account for $1300 advising that I owe that much to SA Water and attempts to settle the amount have been unsuccessful. It’s addressed to a Tom Richardson but with a different middle initial said to be at my address. I haven’t received any previous attempts to settle it but I have received an identical letter probably about nine months ago and I called this credit agency – Australian Receivables Ltd – and said what’s this about … they said it’s in relation to a property that I’d never lived out … I said I think you’ve got the wrong guy because that’s not my middle initial and that’s not my address… they said ‘we’ll sort it out’ and nine months later I get another fairly aggressive demand for payment with very little time to resolve it… I have heard from SA Water this morning and they’ve assured me that that’s not my account and that they’re talking to their collection agency but it does seem a fairly heavy handed and sort of odd approach from the collection agency to say that guy’s got the same name, that must be the guy, we’ll send him a threatening legal letter. (Byner: The other issue… when it gets to that point, one of the great dangers is that you’ve already been put on the credit reference bad debts list and you’ll never know until you go and try and get a loan for a car …) I don't know about that… I certainly hope that’s not the case but from your response and other responses I got on Twitter … it’s not an unheard of scenario … (Byner: It’s been a very tumultuous 48 hours, what do you think?) …It has been a tumultuous couple of days and it’s six months out from an election so it’s probably – I think the Weatherill Government has had a reshuffle every year since the Premier took office so the two newcomers have been waiting in the wings for some time and they’ve now got their opportunity to step into the breach. I’m not sure whether adding a couple of new faces is going to do a great deal to refresh a Government that’s been in power asking for a 20-year term effectively in March but certainly they wanted a communicator in that Health portfolio and they’ve got someone who is widely talked about as a future leader so it’ll be a big opportunity for Peter Malinauskas to step up to the reputation that precedes him, which is Labor’s leading in waiting because the Health portfolio pretty quickly shows up whether that’s a genuine reputation or something that is perhaps more hope that any achievement. (Byner: Are you surprised at all the issues that have been raised about the nRAH over and above what you would reasonably expect in a move such as this.) I’m not, it’s a massive undertaking, there are always going to be teething problems and in a system which has been in … crisis for some time … and the Government admitted as much probably as far back as probably 2004 or 2005 when a former Health Minister said the system’s stuffed. I don’t begrudge the Government and Jack Snelling in particular for trying to grapple with not just the problems that arise every day but the fundamental problems that create them because to be fair to him it’s the first time that a Health Minister has actually tried to do that but it’s not going to come easily and there’ll continue to be problems with the system as we go forward so no it doesn't surprise me at all. What the Government needs and what the new Health Minister needs is the kind of resolve to … identify the best path forward and to stick with it but they need to be pretty sure of their advice and be sure that they’re on that path before they do that. (Byner: …Thanks…)

John Darley, Independent MLC (5AA 9.55-9.56) Debt collection issue with SA Water over mistaken identity

(Byner: John Darley’s called in.) I just heard the tail end of Tom’s problem … I had a similar situation a couple of years ago where I received a land tax account through a property that we’d never owned and it never got down to the non-payment stage because I contacted Revenue SA and I said ‘Look, we’ve never owned this property’ OK. So then it was fixed, or supposedly fixed, lo and behold the next year I got the bill for the same property so I said to Mike Walker who was the Commissioner at the time, I said ‘I’m quite happy to pay the bill as long as you transfer the title to me.’ (Byner: [laughs] I love it… You would hope that SA Water have better record keeping…)