‘Absolute gold': Labor leader clarifies tweet blunder about 102yo pensioner facing welfare cut



Punchbowl resident Anne Hawkins’ plight

Anthony Albanese has clarified a tweet left on a story about a centenarian facing her pension being cut off that was misinterpreted as praising her plight.Source:News Corp Australia

Anthony Albanese has clarified the meaning behind a now-deleted tweet misinterpreted as celebrating the plight of a 102-year-old pensioner faced with her Centrelink payments being withdrawn.

Punchbowl resident Anne Hawkins’ plight was widely covered across Australian media as the elderly lady revealed Centrelink had threatened to withdraw her welfare payments if she could not provide proof of identity.

The federal government has since backed down and apologised to Ms Hawkins following the intervention of her local MP and manager of opposition business, Tony Burke.

Punchbowl resident Anne Hawkins’ plight

The tweet from Mr Albanese (pictured) on the 10 News First story has since been deleted. It was made in response to Labor MP Tony Burke highlighting the issue and intervening for Ms Hawkins’ family.Source:Supplied

Mr Albanese tweeted “Absolute gold” in response to 10 News First‘s coverage of the issue earlier this week in response to Mr Burke highlighting the shocking stuff-up.

It prompted several angry responses before the tweet was deleted from the Labor leader’s account.

A Labor spokesman said the tweet was taken down by the social media team after reflection it might be misinterpreted.

Punchbowl resident Anne Hawkins’ plight

A spokesman from Anthony Albanese’s office said the tweet was deleted on reflection it would be misinterpreted.Source:News Corp Australia

“The Labor leader was very pleased that this disturbing case was resolved by the hard work of Tony Burke and his office and the result it achieved for this woman and her family,” the spokesman said.

Ms Hawkins, who is bed-bound, was not able to provide proof of identity beyond her Australian citizenship certificate when pressed by Centrelink.

She was advised to get a NSW proof of age card – a move that would require her to be taken there in a hospital bed.

Punchbowl resident Anne Hawkins’ plight

Anne Hawkins, 102, was ordered to provide proof of identity to Centrelink despite being on the pension for more than 40 years. Her family have slammed the service’s treatment of her. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesSource:News Corp Australia

Ms Hawkins’ family has slammed Centrelink’s treatment of the issue, claiming they were not offered any alternative or options.

Mr Burke told NCA NewsWire the government agency needed to “explain itself”.

“They actually wanted her to put herself at risk by leaving the house so she could jump through ridiculous bureaucratic hoops,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“The government now says they’re going to look into how this happened – and that’s good. But why are they sending any threatening letters to pensioners in lockdown zones right now?

“It shouldn’t be happening at all.”

Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds has since apologised for the inconvenience.

“I am also looking into the precise events to determine what exactly has occurred and any need for changes to the Services Australia’s procedures and communication,” she said.

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