7th Feb 2019
Centrelink to face federal court over flawed robo-debt system
Centrelink to face federal court over flawed robo-debt system

Centrelink is facing a landmark court case after Victorian Legal Aid (VLA) filed papers in the federal court on Tuesday challenging the legality of the infamous robo-debt system.

VLA says that the algorithm which averages a person’s yearly tax office income and automatically issues a debt-recovery notice if it doesn’t match fortnightly income reporting to Centrelink, is flawed.

It says that debts to Centrelink should not be imposed based on those numbers because they are unlawful.

The case is not about helping people avoid debt, but at paving the way for a fairer system, says VLA executive director of civil justice Rowan McRae.

“The way robo-debt averages people’s income assumes that they work neat, regular hours throughout a year. In reality, we know people work part time or sporadically throughout the year, because they’re studying, can’t get regular work, have multiple jobs or are unwell. This means the calculation of alleged ‘overpayments’ is often inaccurate,” said Ms McRae.

“Centrelink should create a system that encourages accurate reporting and fairly investigates overpayments. What we can’t accept is a system that is so clearly not working, that has been proven to be causing overwhelming hardship.”

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) supports the motion, describing the ‘disastrous’ Centrelink automated debt recovery system as a “devastating abuse” of government power.

“Robo-debt has unleashed thousands of debt notices in error to parents, people with disabilities, carers, students and people seeking paid work, resulting in people slapped with Centrelink debts they do not owe or debts higher than what they owe,” said ACOSS chief Dr Cassandra Goldie.

Kasey Chambers, executive director of Anglicare Australia, told Pro Bono News she hoped the robo-debt program would finally be shut down.

“We certainly hope whichever colour of government we end up with is looking carefully at this, because we really need to get rid of a system harming people who are coming into contact with it,” said Ms Chambers.

However, Ms McRae said the government should embrace technology but do it in a smarter way.

“We hope the court will ultimately find that robo-debt is unlawful and that a system with integrity will follow,” she said.

The Australian Greens are backing the court challenge and have again called for the suspension of the program during the court case.

“The human consequences of robo-debt are gobsmacking in the brazen way the government threw out fairness to pick on some of the most vulnerable people in Australia,” said Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

“We should not be subjecting people on income support to a system which has such a huge rate of error. It just wouldn’t fly in any other industry but the government thinks they can get away with it because in many cases people on income support just don’t have the means to question their debt notices.” 

YourLifeChoices has repeatedly reported on the injustices wrought by the robo-debt program, and also supports the court challenge.

“The Government aims to save money by using automated services, but those savings have repeatedly come at the expense of older Australians’ dignity and peace of mind,” says YourLifeChoices publisher Kaye Fallick.

“Hopefully this court case will shine a light on the program’s legal flaws and, as a result, the Government will create a fairer, more accurate system that protects its bottom line but, more importantly, vulnerable Australians who are already struggling. Robo-debt certainly has its benefits. We don’t believe in people rorting the system, but the program needs to be fixed.”

The court case has also revived calls for increases to inadequate payments.

“Instead of making life harder for people with damaging policies like robo-debt, the Cashless Debit Card and ParentsNext, a good government would increase the grossly inadequate Newstart and Youth Allowance payments to ensure our social safety net does not trap people in poverty,” said Dr Goldie.

“Our social security safety net should provide people with the support and dignity they need to escape the poverty."

Are you surprised at this court case? Do you think more cases will follow? Should the Government take robo-debt offline until the problems are fixed?

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Coolbreeze
    7th Feb 2019
    10:38am
    What was wrong with the old system that compared their annual income to their taxable income? I don't understand how this robo-debt comparison could have ever been considered fair???
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:07am
    It's calculated on a fortnightly income basis - not annual. I've given the example of someone leaving uni with an engineering degree during a mining slump, going on the dole for six months while seeking work, and then finding a job at $150,000 p.a. for six months...

    Postulating that this means that they earned $75,000 during a period of unemployment is absurd. What it MAY do is indicate a possibility that there MAY have been an overpayment - but such things can be verified in five minutes by a competent Centrelink operator.

    Which leads us to two things:-

    a) Centrelink operators in the main are NOT competent.

    b) It appears that Centrelink operators are under orders to impose a penalty first and then wait for any reaction.

    Neither of these is good business practice (recall that movie 'The Rain Maker'?), and most particularly it is not a suitable approach for a public service.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:13am
    b) It appears that Centrelink operators are under orders to impose a penalty first and then wait for any reaction.

    This is a time-honoured practice in unscrupulous businesses (and government departments now falsely viewed as 'businesses' and extensions/branches/subsidiaries of GovCo).. slam 'em first, then force them to go through a lengthy, tedious and costly appeals process in a game loaded against them - that way only the very determined will win in the end, or even get a fair hearing.

    All the rest you can then automatically classify as 'rorters' and 'bludgers' - as is clearly the intention of this LNP government.

    This is the equivalent of the fat cat tax rorters being heavily lawyered up, thus avoiding any close scrutiny.

    Not a good look for any government of this nation .
    jackie
    7th Feb 2019
    11:18am
    The Liberal Government has been determined to destroy our Social Security system. The continuous Liberal cutbacks, privatisation, hiring very expensive corporate casual workers and the $10,000 per person cashless corporate welfare card. Robo debt is a scam to drive Australians away from Social Security.They are driven to create Centrelink an expensive elephant.

    Privatisation allows corporations to run the system and governments to be their puppets. That's why all in Parliament are rich imbeciles. Nothing will happen to the banks and tax payer money will foot that bill too while the corporations will pay $0 tax. No robo debt for them.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:48am
    Oh - I have to add the the calculated move to creating of an annual income something that covers the whole financial year, when the individual may have had an extensive period of unem0loyment, converts the current system into one of a LOAN to the unemployed person.

    Taking my example above - if Jo D'Zyner is slugged for the six months unemployed payments because she has been employed for six months in twelve months, earning $75k - and that $75k is deemed to be income for the whole year - that is the same as demanding that the subsistence money paid for the unemployed six months is to be repaid - making it a loan.

    They must think we were born yesterday........ plain as the nose on my face, which was bigger than my Maltese girl-friend's nose was...
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:18pm
    An engineer who claims six month on Newstart and then gets a job for over $200,000 a year needs to be investigated.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:31pm
    OG. Why? That sort of scenario is quite realistic. No rorts there. Certainly not compared with the snouts-in-the-trough mentality of your rorting Lieberal politician mates.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    3:19pm
    OG, that engineer isn't doing anything wrong. I agree the system is wrong to allow this. I know a fellow who did seasonal work for 25 years, earning over $200,000 a year but claiming unemployment and a host of family benefits for the months he wasn't working - months when he was enjoying a wonderful holiday! But it's a bad system that's allowing that. The solution isn't to persecute genuine claimants who had fluctuating incomes.
    Old Man
    7th Feb 2019
    4:16pm
    Just what I wanted to say Bob but you said it better. As I see it, there is not a lot wrong with the robo shit system per se but any large anomalies should be investigated by a person. As well, any complaints should also be tossed to a person as a machine should be a tool to get things started, not used to be the final arbiter.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    4:58pm
    Great minds think.... errr... ahhh.. what was that word now... ummmm....

    (you know my sense of humour)....
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    5:11pm
    I didn't say the engineer did anything wrong. I used it as an example of what should be investigated.

    Whole reporting system is flawed in many ways. I know people who only work until they use up their work credits so they don't have their welfare reduced. Then when they build up more work credits they get a job for awhile and so on.

    Obviously if your taxable income is greater than you have told Centrelink then you need a please explain. If you ignore it then you get a debt. Nothing wrong with that at all.
    Old Man
    7th Feb 2019
    5:19pm
    Sometimes leaving a word off a platitude makes it better, Bob. "Great minds think" is a better saying like that as perhaps "familiarity breeds" is.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    6:13pm
    Genius is 90% perspiration......
    GeorgeM
    7th Feb 2019
    7:38pm
    Coolbreeze, you are right, the Robo-debt system was never designed to be fair, just a quick poorly designed attack on people weakened by their circumstances, declaring them guilty until proved innocent, expecting them to bear the burden of proof when many of them did not do anything wrong!

    A RC would have held the Management responsible (and possibly the Liberal Minister responsible), with people like Hank Jongen, who justified it, asked to pack their bags immediately. Great that finally somebody (VLA) has stepped up to fight it legally.
    Also, note that Labor seems to be very quiet about this - part of the same Tag Team who runs this country!
    Good comments from all above, except OG as usual.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:03am
    Well if they designed the system with false parameters they deserve to cop a hefty punishment.
    SFR
    7th Feb 2019
    12:06pm
    You fail to understand Centrelink is a Govt. Institution, it does not have any money, it's OUR Money, the Govt. does not have any Money, IT's OUR MONEY. Punishment will only be effective if Heads Role. Just like the banking inquiry, Fines imposed on the NAB means clients are penalised. The only penalty that will be effective is if those responsible are charged and penalised either financially or imprisoned. If I get caught speeding in my car, does the the car get the fine or me?
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    1:55pm
    I'm well aware of all that...... you expect a book every time I comment? Got enough trouble writing my books now..... with time pressures etc from caring role...
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:19pm
    It is actually a very good way of sorting out those doing the wrong thing. Success rate was over 95 %.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:33pm
    Bollocks OG! Plenty of innocent Centrelink customers have been unjustly persecuted by this heartless robotic system, instigated by your cronies in government.
    SFR
    7th Feb 2019
    4:39pm
    "I'm well aware of all that." if you are well aware of that, why post crap?
    Tell us WHO THEY ARE, that deserve to be punished.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    4:59pm
    The designers and managers of the system - and anyone shown to have ordered it... Yamashita Decision...

    Do I need to explain every detail in a simple post? **rolls eyes**
    SFR
    7th Feb 2019
    7:08pm
    Dream on, Program Designers worked to a specification, Managers managed to a manifesto, the guys responsible are the Bureaucrats, the faceless guys operating behind the scenes.
    Roll your eyes if you like, you know you made a stupid statement, man up and admit it.
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    7:50pm
    SFR - good luck trying to have an intellectual conversation with Trebor
    The boy deals in childish platitudes and worse he thinks by adding in in his eyes “smart arse” quotations , it makes him sound intelligent .
    Deluded childish wannabe
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:22am
    Well - part of my CV is programming...and you may well be right about the designers.... however, a competent systems analyst would have said this does not meet the bill.

    As for managers working to a manifesto - guilty.

    Faceless bureaucrats - same thing...

    Those who ordered it in the political sphere - guilty.

    Open your eyes..

    Loathsome - grow up - you are the only child on this forum. Are you still here?
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:22am
    **depraved indifference**
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:43am
    You get one more chance to tighten up your act, Loathsome, and start acting like an adult - or it's adios muchacho.

    Fair warning. Even my patience runs out at some time.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    8:54am
    O.G, I would not say that putting people under pressure by falsely accusing them of fraud is a successful outcome. Claiming this system as a success is tantamount to stating,we put twenty people in gaol who were innocent, but that is a good result because we got 80 people who were guilty.
    We can not allow the government to reverse our system of law and require the burden of proof to be placed on the accused rather than the accuser.
    The whole scheme is a scam, a bit like criminals sending out bogus invoices hoping that 10% of the recipients will pay rather than investigate the bill. That is the same strategy that this government is applying, they are no better than common criminals.
    cupoftea
    7th Feb 2019
    11:14am
    This government will do anything to make life miserable for any person receiving benefits of any sort
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:20pm
    If you do the right thing you have nothing to worry about.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:35pm
    More bullshit, OG. People doing the right thing are being slapped with unwarranted debts and the attendant stress by a cruel and mindless robo-system.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    3:22pm
    I agree this government is wrong to hurt innocent people. But how come Labor supporters condone Labor persecuting honest hard workers and ripping them off with cruel and unfair overtaxing, while affording pensioners - wealthy ones included - extreme privilege.

    Why doesn't the law of 'fair' apply across the board, instead of conditional upon which party is being unfair?
    Sundays
    7th Feb 2019
    4:14pm
    ....and right on cue here comes Rainey backing self interest.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:21pm
    No, Sundays, NATIONAL INTEREST. It is not in anyone's interests to make the tax system unfair and punitive such that it discourages work and saving. Labor supporters are the ones pushing self-interest. Totally selfish, disgustingly unfair, and totally illogical. They are somehow dumb enough to think tax can be tax when paid by a wealthy man but something else entirely when taken from a poor man's income - unless of course that 'poor' man (or the man pretending to be poor) is one of the pensioner elite, in which case they are ENTITLED to TRIPLE handouts, while screaming that the self-funded shouldn't even get a fair tax refund.
    Greg
    7th Feb 2019
    4:31pm
    Sundays - Hahaha, now look what you've done.
    Sundays
    7th Feb 2019
    4:32pm
    Given I am self funded and seem to be your biggest critic while everyone else is clever eneough to ignore your self interested posts, who are these pensioner elites screaming you shouldn’t get a (very unfair) tax refund. Do you mean part pensioners, or maybe full pensioners whose only asset is their family home which has gone up in value over 40 years. Don’t give me made up stories of fictional people living in mansions and cruising the world on the OAP.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:47pm
    They are NOT fictional stories, Sundays. There have even been huge boasts on here by millionaires who manipulated to claim a pension. And you may be self-funded, but clearly you either have a very large asset base, a secure income stream, or high returns that don't rely on franked dividends. Good luck to you. Only the most selfish and arrogant would condone hurt to others while they party because they are not impacted. You should be ashamed of your selfishness.

    Plenty of part pensioners are VERY well off. And full pensioners who have expensive homes have, in many cases, bought them recently to reduce their assessable assets. In my suburb, almost every retiree has traded up to a very expensive home to qualify for the pension. And most of my relatives have done the same. I have relatives who have taken up to a dozen costly cruises prior to retirement to reduce their assets. One did so specifically because her brother is living in fear of a Labor Govt. demolishing his income. He has a $400,000 house, $120,000 in cash and personal assets, and $750,000 invested earning just $37500 LESS administration costs to support himself and his wife. Labor will leave them with a net income of just $25,000 a year. His sister worked out that she was better off with less than $500,000 and is ensuring she and her husband spend down to that level.

    My posts are NOT self-interested, Sundays. They are in EVERYONE'S interests. Lying to the public can never be condoned, and clearly what Labor plans will hurt the majority -otherwise they would not need to lie about their policy.

    I stand for FAIR tax that benefits the nation. And that means tax taken from income is TAX - to be retained, credited or refunded according to personal situation, not mythically and dishonestly reclassified and stolen because it is taken from the income of a poor shareholder who isn't supported by the taxpayer.
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    5:04pm
    Well if you don't manage your affairs under Labor to get the old age pension you will be barking mad unless you have over $2 million in assets.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:25am
    Well if you don't manage your affairs under any government to get the old age pension you will be barking mad unless you have over $2 million in assets.

    Fixed for you.... no fee this time... but watch it.

    Depending on the assets - if they are income bearing assets - no dice. Accumulated assets for self use without bearing income - they are yours and not the property of the state.
    Sundays
    8th Feb 2019
    8:30am
    None of these people should have SMSF. Some adviser has set it up for them putting all the money in Australian shares. Told them they can live off the refund of franking credits. Keep the capital for their estate. I know I went to a seminar. People who dont know how to invest on their own. Credible financial advisers will tell you that unless you have close to $2M or know how to invest wisely in a diversified portfolio save the fees and all the compliance paperwork. Put your money in a large super fund (preferably industry). Save the stress, enjoy the fruits of your labour, live off your income stream and if you qualify for a small part pension at some point
    then that is your right
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    8:58am
    O.G, " if you do the right thing you have nothing to worry about?" Not proven in this case, many people who have been doing the right thing have been subject to bureaucratic thuggery instigated by a government with no ideas of natural justice.
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    11:17am
    Main issue with Centrelink is that they believe they are always right & don't have to give reasons or even a breakdown of how anything is calculated. The biggest rorter of the system is Centrelink themselves are they have no transparency.
    Robo Debt should be a tool only to highlight a possible discrepancy, after that it should be investigated by a staffer who informs the recipient & asks them for all relevant information & books an interview.
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:21pm
    When you have so many rorting the system it is not practical to do that.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:36pm
    Zero-evidence assertion, OG.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:32pm
    OG, I suspect it's more a case of it being expensive for Centrelink to be constantly checking on and trying to rectify errors by its staff and its computer systems. I've seen evidence of some horrendous errors - errors that suggest gross incompetence and negligence on the part of assessors.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    5:00pm
    The fact that they apply affirmative action and employ countless casuals and part-timers might have a lot to do with it.....
    GeorgeM
    7th Feb 2019
    7:49pm
    Centrelink is clearly an out of control behemoth, and such bureaucratic behemoths will make lots of mistakes. Their complex rules and processes are now beyond them to understand and apply fairly. It is time their size and role is severely curtailed - one area is the Old Age Pension - if they make it Universal (subject only to Age & Residency), a large part of Centrelink can be shut down, maybe with some of them diverted to other areas suffering from overload. A severe restructuring is now needed - starting with changes from the top. More accountability is needed for their stuff-ups, just like the Banks.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:45am
    The Social Security Act permits Centrelink to convert any deemed overpayment to a debt in the way it does. It's called the insolence of office.....

    Clearly the Social Security Act is in need of revamping...........

    Where is the Opposition on this? Asleep at the wheel again, or too busy chasing unicorns for their feminist, gay, ethnic, and Indigenous masters and mistresses?
    Coolbreeze
    7th Feb 2019
    11:19am
    Thanks Trebor. That has made it clearer. And I agree with all of your other comments re the current government and their processes. They have made it very, very obvious where their alliances lie and that they don't give a ….. about the common man.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:33am
    My payment is in my service to the people, m'lady..... I require nothing more...
    Lookfar
    7th Feb 2019
    11:32am
    What happened to innocent until proved guilty? actually that's where they broke the law, - for eg, https://www.facebook.com/1termtony/videos/1052683561503448/
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:37am
    Hence my dissertation elsewhere on the functionings of and differences between Law, law as approved by legislators, law as practiced in courts... and then regulation which often functions outside the Rule of Law - that last a kind of shadow government with a divine right to make its own rules.

    Hence my opposition to Star Chambers/commissions/tribunals of various kinds, and of certain legislative thrusts over the past near thirty years or perhaps more.
    Robbo
    7th Feb 2019
    11:34am
    Where welfare is concerned a lot of people cheat and I know of many so the system needs to weed them out and prosecute as much as possible
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    11:38am
    Robbodebt? (snuckles)**
    Coolbreeze
    7th Feb 2019
    11:44am
    Sorry?? Did you spell your login name incorrectly? Should be Robo? Yes, the system needs to weed our the rorters but to throw a blanket approach over it and then make it very difficult to object or prove it incorrect (some of these debts go back years. Not everyone keeps details of their income for that long), is wrong and unfair. The government are increasingly making it more difficult to deal with Centrelink to the point where most people will throw up their hands and say too hard. Mission accomplished. I have an elderly friend who is on a pension and is literally terrified of having to deal with centrelink. It shouldn't be like that!
    Sundays
    7th Feb 2019
    11:44am
    Its not a system to weed out cheaters. It’s a system which as Trebor has explained uses false parameters accusing genuine people of cheating and causing undue hardship and stress
    Theo1943
    7th Feb 2019
    11:52am
    Pay the pension to everyone of pension age, regardless of assets, employment or income.

    Then close down centrelink, save $millions,
    Coolbreeze
    7th Feb 2019
    12:07pm
    Also not fair. Why should people with millions of dollars in assets receive a pension? Those funds would be better increasing the Newstart allowance.
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    12:07pm
    And what % is a lot Robbo, 1% 2%. A lot says nothing & your comment doesn't address the original post of an automated robo debt having major issues.
    Lookfar
    7th Feb 2019
    12:29pm
    Robbo, I know that what you wrote is what you are paid to write, but that doesn't exclude you from having to provide proof.
    In fact it is very difficult to cheat on welfare except in minor trivial ways, - Computers record our every transaction, how did you justify your petty little transaction for what you said?
    Not a Bludger
    7th Feb 2019
    1:01pm
    Dead right, Robbo - and just ignore the moaning and groaning from the permanently outraged - as usual, they are just wrong.
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    1:15pm
    Robbo and not a bludger both idiots
    Robbo
    7th Feb 2019
    1:47pm
    That's from 1984 a leftie who probably went from the dole to the pension and whose family are probably all bludgers and on welfare?
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    1:50pm
    Lookfar - you silly ostrich
    Centerlink rorters are getting away with millions of our tax dollars every year
    Many thousands have been robbing us blind to the tune of hundreds of thousands each over many many years
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:22pm
    I agree and robodebt did such a great job.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:47pm
    The Rightard trolls like Robbo, Lothario and OG are out in force in this thread, and making typically stupid, sneering stereotypical characterizations of the Left (as usual).
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    3:42pm
    Scarcely a genuine 'leftie' to be found in Australia - most are comfortably in the middle with varying views either 'way'. Quite a few rabid righties though....
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    3:47pm
    trolls like Robbo, Lothario and OG are all idiots.
    Robbo, you are full of it mate, you don't know me AT ALL, laugh a minute you are ROFLMFHO like the rest of your rightie LNP paid troll mates.
    You need to get a real life lol,lol,lol, lol,
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:51pm
    Quite a few rapid lefties here, Trebor, and seemingly not capable of intelligent comment that doesn't insult anyone who happens to disagree with them, and classify them - WITHOUT EVIDENCE - as 'trolls'.

    I find words like 'Rightard troll' far more offensive than anything OG or Lothario have to say, despite the fact that I mostly vehemently disagree with them - and I certainly disagree with them strongly on this particular topic.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    5:02pm
    Oh, I dunno- Loathsome has called people 'the village idiot' and such and any number of insulting and disparaging things, as well as using disparaging terms to describe their argument instead of actually arguing the point.

    He sowed the breeze and now is beginning to reap the righteous whirlwind..... OG, as I said, simply lives in a well and imagines that the world is the wall of the well and all he can see and touch.
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    7:55pm
    Don't fall of that high horse of yours OGR. If memory serves me correctly as it always does the name calling, belittling etc started with the LNP trolls especially that fw Robbo who attacks anyone that isn't rightwing with name calling, false claims & accusations.
    You OGR have also become nasty with name calling & angry comments etc, I would stronly suggest you diversify all you financials that generate FC to something else that won't totally comsume your everyday life that makes you the nasty person you are because it doesn't matter what the topic is you always bring up the issue with the ALP concerning your FC.
    Life is to short for anger, smile and be happy
    And until YLC admin start removing those posts that some deem offensive it will only get worse.
    Have a nice evening
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    9:07am
    Robbo, just as many in business " cheat", shall we apply the same rule of you are guilty until we decide you are not to them?
    I think the Department and the government have acted illegally, many on this site have had the same view from the start. It is time that the process is tested and that compensation is paid if due.
    This government has cost the taxpayer billions with its haste to bring in untested and irrational policy and regulation, time for it to pay for its incompetence both financially and in the Ballot Box.
    floss
    7th Feb 2019
    12:20pm
    It is just not legal, simple really.
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:22pm
    Of course it is legal. Just some upstart trying it on.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:28am
    The Final Solution was legal as well...... watch how you abuse that word.....
    Not a Bludger
    7th Feb 2019
    12:57pm
    I am absolutely sick and tired of these same old leftie lawyers (who are paid from my taxpayer coin, entirely without my consent) protecting people who are rorting our generous social benefits system.
    Centrelink must not waver in its attempts to weed out these rorters and bring them to account.
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    1:11pm
    Agree Not a Bludger
    These leftie lawyers are making wasting our money but that's what lefties do - spend other peoples money
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    1:14pm
    You're both idiots
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    1:19pm
    I see merit in your point, 1984....
    Lookfar
    7th Feb 2019
    1:21pm
    Not a bludger, I think you really need to get into the facts rather than the slogans, a slogan is the response of the mindless. I am attaching a link on the Queensland gas development, much promoted by Anna Bligh, the Labour govt, although you can see she had a minor part, - the main parties were just big multinational companies, and despite all the hoohah, and Australians paying much more for gas, and these companies earning Billions, they paid NO TAX, and still don't, - you are either politically motivated or pig ignorant, the amounts involved are staggering, and you complain about somebody selling vegies at the side of the road? Read this and see if you can't change your 'mind, socks and underwear,' - per the classsic Goons quote. - I dare you.
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-second-british-invasion-how-royal-cronies-and-the-gas-debacle-took-australia-for-billions/?fbclid=IwAR18Cgu-WUL2Jzdt42NNrUu9MPZOS44fhMtDu-ehAuO7uBzIQi3gEJJIA9E
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:23pm
    I agree. Far too many are now rorting the system.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:48pm
    OG and Lothario = Dumb and Dumber.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    3:25pm
    The rorters aren't getting caught, OG. They know the rules and how to play safely. It's the honest folk being tormented.
    sunnyOz
    7th Feb 2019
    1:02pm
    My own experience with CL can only agree. At the same time that I went on the OAP, I started a very casual job. I went in and advised CL that I would be working full time for the first week for training, then going to 2 days a week. A few weeks later, checked to see my part-pension, and nothing. Went and saw them. The reporting period on my form showed 7 days of work over the fortnight, they looked at the total amount and decided that I earned too much for the OAP! So stopped it. NO contact with me.
    Trying to sort it out was an absolute nightmare. I think I went in their office 6 times. Staff were totally and completely ignorant and non understanding of my situation, and I had to show THEM how to calculate figures, taking into account the earning rate and the Work Bonus. They were completely and utterly blank when I gave them a full break down of what the figures should be. In the end I had to complain higher up the chain, and then they had to work out a back payment.
    The figure they worked out was absolutely no-where near what it should have been as calculated by both myself and my accountant. But try and get a break down from CL? - IMPOSSIBLE. They absolutely refused, saying they did not have to give a break down.
    No wonder there are Robo-debts. I too am now scared that in a few years time I will be hit with one, with not a single way of checking it. With CL, it is 'guilty until you prove your innocence' - but how can you prove a negative or something that did not transpire?

    A few years ago, I cared for an elderly aunt who was still living in her marital home, whilst husband was in a nursing home. She too received a Robo-Debt letter and for a lady in her early 80's, this was most distressing, saying she owed nearly $2,600. Oh my God! - the hassle of trying to get an answer on this was laughable! It really was a case of persisting, CL are just hoping elderly people will just be trusting and pay up. (which my aunt wanted to do). After months of fighting, we WERE vindicated. Somehow the form the Nursing Home needed to complete, was not ticked correctly. They were both entitled to the Single OAP - CL - we are sure - still had them as a couple.
    No apology, final letter we received simply said something like -'we have adjusted your file to reflect nil amount owed'.
    There HAS to be an independent that can oversee specific CL concerns. And staff need to be better trained. One person we spoke to had recently moved here from South Africa, and neither my aunt or I could understand her at all, her accent was so broad and words rolled in to one. we had to ask for someone else to speak to.
    Will be interesting to see the result of this court action.
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    1:07pm
    Victoria Legal Aid wasting tax payer money - how absolutely disgusting
    The overpaid bureaucrat who thought of this should be sacked
    Absolutely no justification for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on another non issue
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    1:12pm
    Idiot
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    1:15pm
    You and the legal aid bureaucrat both
    Lookfar
    7th Feb 2019
    1:29pm
    Uh Uh Lothario, Govt needs oversight, such stuff-ups as the Robodebt absolutely prove it, - what do you want, the govt continues to get more and more corrupt until the super greedy Super Rich buy it and all of us?, - you would just be a slave then like the rest of us.
    Not on, not if you are an Australian.
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:17pm
    I agree a waste of taxpayers money.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:54pm
    The only waste is you two flint-hearted idiots (Lothario and OG) - wastes of space.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:23pm
    In this instance, I don't see it as waste, Lothario. It is necessary for the protection of innocent people who have limited access to defend themselves. This robo debt system is WRONG. That is indisputable. Centrelink needs to be reigned in.
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    5:05pm
    Lets hope it gets thrown out where it belongs.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:29am
    Let's hope it brings out all their malfeasances.....
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    1:13pm
    Best way to avoid robodebt is to avoid using centerlink altogether.
    But if you go on welfare, then you bloody well better be prepared to have all your i's dotted and t's crossed.
    If you cannot explain your income in any 1 year, then how on earth do you determine you need welfare ???
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    1:18pm
    Idiot
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    2:25pm
    I agree. Learn the rules and play the game.
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:54pm
    Idiots
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    3:24pm
    Hard to avoid welfare when unfair government policies tax you into hardship, Lothario. If Labor wins the election, get ready for tens of thousands more on Centrelink's books.
    Sundays
    7th Feb 2019
    4:23pm
    Nah, you’ll never qualify unless you spend up! Never going to happen
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:35pm
    Sounds like a quote from that half-wit Bowen, who lives in la la land. Hundreds of thousands of SFRs are very close to the asset threshold and don't need to spend much at all to qualify for pensions. Even with $1.2 million, a couple is better off sinking a few hundred thousand into home improvements or a luxury cruise.
    Sundays
    7th Feb 2019
    8:03pm
    How silly, you never know when you will need that capital. $1.2M in Super gives you $60,000 in income. If they’re close to the threshhold they may qualify for a very small part pension and will still have to draw down Super.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:30am
    OG - you can't agree to play by the rules while Loathsome is advocating not joining in the Centrelink game.... the two do not meet at any point.

    For the slow-witted:- When you run on the field you are deemed to agree to play by the rules - when you sit in the stands and watch, you aren't even in the game.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    9:10am
    Give this government another term and many more of us will be on welfare.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    8th Feb 2019
    2:35pm
    Let Labor introduce their rotten FC policy and hundreds of thousands more will be on the OAP, and the percentage of soon-to-retire winding down assets to below the threshold will soar.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    5:21pm
    OGR, if you are relying on Franking Credits to finance your retirement, I suggest you get a new financial adviser. Shares should be good enough to make a profit standing alone, if not I would classify them as junk shares.
    I only have a small investment in the share market (Less than $200K) but if I took out the Franking credits they would would still be making more than the dismal Term Deposits that the Banks offer,
    I think you may be exaggerating with your figures of hundreds of thousands being forced onto welfare, where did your figures come from?
    flowerpot
    7th Feb 2019
    1:39pm
    1984 - I fully support your use of the word 'idiot'. I would also like to suggest the descriptors 'ill-informed' and 'stupid' should be used before 'idiot' or its plural form. I doubt the idiots will change their minds though as they seem incapable of rational thought.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:49am
    Frivolous and malicious spring to mind... OG I see as simple meandering a little, and he's good for a laugh - he does seem to wander from side to side a lot... The Twerp on the other hand is simply malicious.

    I've given him his final warning and advice to shape up or ship out....
    Andy Leucite
    7th Feb 2019
    1:45pm
    Problems continue. A couple of months ago my wife and I received letters demanding, on threat of having our OA pension cancelled, that we provide Centrelink with details about the income related to our AirBnB activities. We have never been involved in AirBnB activity (as owners or users) and were worried about how to deal with this. We knew a request to respond, even if complied with, often takes longer to get through the system than the couple of weeks one gets to respond before the pension is suspended (often with instructions to cut up pension cards and so on). We went to our local Centrelink Office, and after attempts to sidetrack us onto their client-operated computers (to achieve what?), we were assigned to a staff member. She was sympathetic, and believed immediately that we did not run an Airbnb on the side. However, she could find no explanation as to why we should have been sent the demand, and nor she get could in touch with the actual person some other city, who had generated the letter. He/she was supposedly 'unavailable.' Perhaps that was a smokescreen for a robot which perhaps sent out almost random letters in some kind of fishing expedition, trawling for people who might be delinquent in reporting income, which seems to be the default attitude of the Centrelink philosophy: that almost all clients are delinquent in reporting income. Who knows. We received no explanation or apology, as always seems to be with the many dramas that we have experienced as clients of Centrelink. I am not normally a neurotic person, but every time I see a letter or email from Centrelink, my stomach clenches and I develop a sweaty brow and fear the worst - having been conditioned by a whole series of nasty episodes over the years. I am the most honest person you could imagine, and the most diligent with trying to jump through the hoops that Centrelink sets pensioners, but past experiences, none of which came from past wrong-doing or negligence, of which I have none, have sort of acted like the jiggers currently in the news for conditioning horses to expect the worst.
    TREBOR
    7th Feb 2019
    2:04pm
    "Of note is the fact that typically, only 15.7 percent of reviews led to cancellations or reductions in payments. Of these, as few as 0.8 percent were referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP); with 0.5 percent being prosecuted. Prosecutions resulted in a 98.8 percent conviction rate. "

    https://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi421

    Well - you'd expect that with only 0.5% - the obvious cases - being prosecuted, the conviction rate would be high... what is of interest is that the 'fish in a barrel' cases resulted in 1.2% failure in attempted prosecution.

    One in six reviews had a reduction or penalty - many issues arise - how did they arise, were they defended, what avenues of defence were provided to those accused, and what capacity did those accused have to defend?

    Simple justice dictates an absolute and free (costless) right to contest an accusation... one area in which our 'legal' system is wrong at this time. There should be no fee accruing to the right to defend yourself against an accusation - the alternative is a win-win every time for the accuser, especially if the accuser is handed the money of the defendant to pursue their accusation.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    5:24pm
    Citizens should be free to take a class action in order to sue the government for mental and financial stress. This would soon put them back in their boxes.
    Adrianus
    11th Feb 2019
    9:42pm
    "only 15.7 percent of reviews led to cancellations or reductions in payments."

    Wow??!!! That's quite high. I'm pleased they had those reviews and stopped the dishonesty. I hope those people were charged and possibly gaoled!!
    Adrianus
    11th Feb 2019
    9:42pm
    "only 15.7 percent of reviews led to cancellations or reductions in payments."

    Wow??!!! That's quite high. I'm pleased they had those reviews and stopped the dishonesty. I hope those people were charged and possibly gaoled!!
    ex PS
    12th Feb 2019
    8:27am
    What was the average value of the money saved, if it was a couple of dollars, it has actually cost us more money than was saved. A reduction of payments could be $100.00 or it could be 50 cents, unless we have the figures, we can not assume that anything was gained.
    What we can be sure of, because we have actual evidence, is that many people who did not deserve it were put under unnecessary stress.
    But I guess the government apologists will try and spin anything to preserve their precious party. Yep I agree we should do what we can to limit dishonesty, wherever it is found.
    FormerLaborVoter
    12th Feb 2019
    8:30am
    That’s a dumb argument exPS
    It’s loke saying the police shouldn’t investigate robberies less than a certain amount because it cost more in police resources - night as well have the taxpayer just compensate the victims
    Dumb !!!
    Knows-a-lot
    7th Feb 2019
    2:22pm
    Trust the horrible Robo-debt system to be instigated under the horrible Robo-LieberalNP government. The latter will soon enough be consigned to the garbage can of history as a bad memory; let's hope that this court action sees the former gain the same fate.
    OnlyGenuineRainey
    7th Feb 2019
    4:26pm
    Do you have the intelligence to comment on ANYTHING without using insulting terms and trashing the government, Knows-a-lot? Both parties are negligent, cruel, unfair, corrupt, dishonest... it goes on an on and on. But constantly ridiculing the Liberals and anyone who supports them really makes you look like a bigoted blind fool with no capacity for intelligent remark.

    I agree Robodebt is wrong. But Labor have not treated welfare recipients well either. In fact, many of their policies will do more harm to the needy than anything Liberals have done.
    Old Geezer
    7th Feb 2019
    5:00pm
    Labor bought it in not the LNP.
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    8:02pm
    Doesn't matter who introduced it the fact remains it's been under the LNP control for the past 6 six years & it's gotten worse under their watch.
    FormerLaborVoter
    7th Feb 2019
    8:06pm
    Haha
    What a cop out
    Labor introduced it and the bureaucracts have been implementing it since labors watch
    At the end of the day it’s a good system
    Kudos to labor
    Lothario
    7th Feb 2019
    8:07pm
    Idiot
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:37am
    "Welfare recipients whose files are marked with a “vulnerability indicator” have so far been exempt from Centrelink’s controversial methods of clawing back overpayments, which have received widespread criticism for their inaccuracy and unfairness since a raft of changes introduced in mid-2016."

    Mid-2016 - doesn't sound like much Labor there... not that I'd put it past them to come up with the idea.

    "How do miscalculations happen?

    There are two main ways:

    "Many people receive Centrelink payments for short periods of unemployment or illness. The automated program uses annual income data from the tax office and averages it out. If your boss has given the wrong dates to the tax office, or if you earned more some weeks that others, then averaging creates a false impression that you were earning undeclared income while you were getting Centrelink.
    If the information you have given Centrelink about your employer is slightly different to that recorded by the tax office, it appears you have two jobs and didn't declare one of them to Centrelink. This can be as simple as a typo in the name."

    Sounds pretty cut and dried to me ... system sucks......

    Come back with a personal sledge, Loathie - it's all you've got, kid.
    TREBOR
    8th Feb 2019
    6:39am
    As I said - a competent systems analyst would have detected this flaw... they are supposed to be trained in other disciplines in order to determine if a program/set of programs actually do/does what it is supposed to do.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    9:28am
    All good software solutions of this type are built to be changed along the way to accommodate changes to policy and legislation. This means that the government has no excuse for not making necessary changes. If the required changes to make the system work effectively can't be made, then the government who implemented the system has a lot to answer for.
    The argument that this is a system bought in ten years ago by another government so it is their fault does not hold water. It may hold true for one term if budget considerations are taken into account but after that there is no excuse for not correcting the fault.
    The government has done nothing because it likes to represent itself as trying to save money by picking on our most vulnerable. It needs to take money off them and the average tax payer in order to give tax cuts to big business, this will provide them with a dividend in the form of healthy campaign donations. This is a system that has worked for them many times.
    ray from Bondi
    8th Feb 2019
    1:09am
    there will not be any hope of fairness until we have a change of government, but then the Commonwealth of Australia is no longer a sovereign country and governments are told what to do by overseas corporations and the wants of the citizens are at the bottom of any list.
    Charlie
    8th Feb 2019
    8:43am
    What about all the other stuff they do badly.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    9:33am
    To list them would be counter productive, any one trying to push through that amount of evidence would start to believe it could not possibly be true and start to believe it was a conspiracy.
    I can put up with fresh new ideas that go wrong, but what I can't stand for is proven bad ideas being recycled with the misguided expectation that for some reason it will work out this time.
    travelman
    8th Feb 2019
    12:53pm
    Centrelink has, by tradition, been viewed in a negative way simply because of the government department they are. However, I have never,in the past, had any serious problem with them and was always treated courteously.
    Our current Prime Minister when he held the Social Services port folio went through it like a wild 'hatchet man' streamlining the system and reducing staff. He didn't know what he was doing then and he still doesn't know what he is doing. Just because we have new technology it is not okay to charge in and wilfully use it. He needs to get two things straight, 1. All technology is not good for mankind, more so if it does not work properly. If it is used it must be checked to make sure it is doing what it suppose to do. "Just to implement it replace the people then forget all about it " is the act of the blind and ignorant. 2. Technology such as A.I. is should enhance the lives of humans not to make their lives worse. Where do we get the idea that using technology will cut production costs and make business more competitive and prosperous? It can in some cases but in others, it is a disaster. All humans need to work, it is natural but if you take away their need to work then you take away their dignity and their natural fulfillment in the eyes of others. The man who works and earn money to support his family is no different to the man in history who went to hunt for food for HIS family. How much worse then when A.I. accuses humans (working for themselves or families) of a debt they do not owe, or worse a criminal act - a machine' accusing a human, that's new. However, it is another human who has implemented this technology and does not have the common sense to see that there is something wrong with it. They make it worse by blindly not 'pulling the plug' on their technology and thus causing the innocent so much grief. We must have a government that has the intelligence and the wisdom to make sure that new technology works correctly and helps mankind and NOT have a government concerned only with its political and egotistical ambition and vanity. Now we have ANOTHER 'train wreck' from this rather inept Coalition to fix, more public money wasted to put it all right and compensation to pay out.
    ex PS
    8th Feb 2019
    2:40pm
    Correct, you can not take out substantial staff member numbers and expect to have an efficient organization, it gets to a stage where every staffing cut equates to a corresponding cut in efficiency.
    You need a certain amount of permanent staff to operate efficiently, contract or casual staff do not have the same commitment as permanent professionals.
    This government is too focused in saving money on services so that they can bribe the voters with tax cuts that in real terms will advance the voters quality of life by zero or very little.
    Mez
    20th Feb 2019
    8:56am
    After reading 127 comments under this title, it is clear that Centrelink has grown too big and needs to be divided into smaller and more efficient departments.
    Incorporating Medicare, etc. under the Human Services roof and bringing in Robo systems has effectively earned itself the new name by many as the INHUMAN SERVICES.
    For example, my Medicare new card was mailed to my old address yet I had provided C.L. with my new one for the Age Pension indicating that their data systems is very faulty which is a liabilty to everyone's security in this country so the sooner this is fixed, the better for our national security as well!
    No wonder that we had a recent large scale hacking of our computer systems!


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles