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“A Mistake? From Centrelink? Highly Unlikely!”

“Hello, I was wondering if you could help me.”
“Certainly, how may I be of assistance?”
“I received this letter telling me that I owe $2 million dollars in overpayments from Centrelink…”
“If you’re wondering how to repay it we have a number of options: you can use a bank transfer if you like, but we also accept cash or gold bullion. The cash can either be in US or Australian currency and…”
“I don’t want to pay it!”
“That’s unfortunate. You did read the consequences of not paying your debt straight away?”
“No, I’m trying to point out that you’ve made a mistake and that…”
“A mistake? Highly unlikely. We’ve had quite a few people come down here and complain and only one in five is a mistake.”
“One in five? That means that there are thousands of mistakes.”
“But it also means that there are thousands that we got right.”
“But if you haven’t checked all of them how do you know that there aren’t even more mistakes out there and that people haven’t complained because they just presume that…”
“Sir, if I could direct your attention to the consequences of not paying your debt on time.”
“But there’s no way that I could possibly owe that much. I only ever received about ten thousand in total from Centrelink.”
“Yes, but you’re overlooking our debt recovery costs.”
“Debt recovery has been contracted out to us in order to make it more efficient. That’s why the costs are so high.”
“How is it more efficient?”
“Well, we make a profit. The public service don’t do that, therefore they’re not as efficient.”
“Ok then, what if I just refuse to pay.”
“If you read the letter, you’ll see that failure to pay by the due date will not only will incur further costs but we take a member of your family and sell them into slavery.”
“That’s ridiculous!”
“Why? Debt slaves have been around for centuries and we do have a group of traditionalists running the country these days. Besides, you get to nominate which member of your family gets taken.”
“You expect me to nominate someone in my family to be a slave?”
“Well, they have to be of working age somewhere between ten years old and 80. Although if they grow too infirm to work, you’ll have to replace them.”
“This is absurd. Can I speak to someone higher up?”
“Sorry, sir, but there’s only a ground floor and there’s nobody on the roof apart from some guy threatening to jump unless we cancel his debt.”
“What are you doing about that?”
“Oh we can’t give in to blackmail. It’s like giving medical attention to those illegals… It only encourages them to get ill or beaten up by local police. No, if he jumps we’ll just pass the debt on to his next of kin.”
“Anyway I meant that I wanted to speak to your superior.”
“He’ll only tell you what I told you.”
“I’d like to speak to them anyway.”
“There’ll be quite a wait.”
“How long?”
“He won’t be free till sometime in 2018. In the meantime, your relative will be working to pay off your debt and you may find that it’s hardly worth the effort of complaining.”
“What are you saying?”
“Well surely you’ve got some kid at home who doesn’t help around the house enough. This is their chance to do their bit for the family. It could be the making of them! Just think of it like a permanentwork-for-the-dole scheme where they get food and shelter as well.”
“How can you live with yourself?”
“What do you mean?”
“Doing this job?”
“I don’t have a choice.”
“What do you mean?”
“My mother had a debt and she said it was either me or Nanna and she figured Nanna wouldn’t last and it’d be me in a couple of years anyway. Besides, Nanna could change her will and then Mum’d have nothing!”
“I see.”
“It’s really better this way. Even if there’s the odd mistake, it only affects the poor and vulnerable so they’re not likely to make much of a fuss and even if they do, nobody cares that much. The government’ll just get those current affair shows and shock jocks to complain about how these dole bludgers are ripping off the taxpayer and nobody’s likely to remember the odd story about some poor pensioner getting all upset about a demand for money.”
“I’m going but you haven’t heard the last of this.”
“Just before you go, sir, could please nominate your preferred method of payment, or failing that, nominate a relative for pick-up?”


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  1. paulwalter

    No. It is not a joke with these people. Forty years ago you could maybe understand prejudice and cruelty based on ignorance.

    Maybe you could live with its continuance.

    But not its expansion.

  2. Keitha Granville

    And here’s silly me thinking that extortion was illegal – clearly a government department is an exception. They are still a government department, Centrelink, aren’t they ? Or has it been privatised ?
    But seriously, how long is this farce going to be allowed to continue ? We already have a suicide problem in our community, and financial strain might be the tipping point for more. And you can bet that the government will refuse to accept the blame.

  3. kerri

    Very funny Rossleigh but disturbingly close to the truth!

  4. passum2013

    Not just Close to the truth it is as good as the truth, but Why should the rich and Billionaires be still allowed to Dodge their Tax liabilities to Australia the country that protects and provided their assets to exploit.

  5. Terry2

    The government are asking every body to focus on the positives : we know that the government are committed to delivering tax cuts to corporations and somehow this has to be funded ……….everybody has to contribute so the government are starting off with pensioners, the unemployed and the disabled for obvious reasons : they can’t fight back and can be easily demonised as bludgers.

  6. jim

    This LNP government is wrecking our country at every level……….KG above has got it right IMO.
    Australia’s suicide rate is the highest it has been for at least ten years. In 2015, 3,027 people ended their own lives in Australia. That’s 12.6 people in every 100,000.

    That’s more than eight people every single day.

    One person every three hours.

    The suicide rate for men were three times higher than for women, at 19.3 deaths per 100,000 people;
    Northern Territory had the highest suicide rate, 21 deaths per 100,000;
    suicide accounted for 1.9 percent of all deaths in Australia;
    the highest rate of suicide for men came at age 85 and over; for females it was 45-49;
    87 children under the age of 17 committed suicide in 2015;
    in the NT, the child suicide rate was 13.6 deaths per 100,000; the next highest state recorded 3.1 deaths per 100,000………..

  7. wam

    I didn’t catch that will you repeat it? Sorry I didn’t understand would you speak slowly. did you push two? sorry please ring again later thank you.
    My bridge partner is a 10 pound pom. She is 86 and came here in 1954. She has a mild east coast Scottish accent but the government computers cannot cope(how would cameron go??) and she gets me to answer the questions.

    The fact that employees are getting training in dealing with angry people shows they expect a lot of frustrated clients and suggests young porter has a full nappy that muffles his voice.

    Apart from a programmer, centrelink will soon have no frontline employees just a couple of security people and a row of phones.

    It is sad that most Australians have never seen the inside of centrelink and assume it is full of derros and Aborigines and don’t care.
    There is some hope that when this narrow lot ruin medicare the frustration caused by patients having to deal with the centrelink system for refunds will reach the critical mass needed to treat the lib and the nats like we did to clp.
    Jim figures seem odd suicides men over 85?? Any link with sky pilots?

  8. Wayne Turner

    This corrupt lying government has set this up on purpose to STEAL from people who have the done the right thing.Stealing from the less well off to give to themselves and their rich mates.It’s disgusting,but sadly predictable from this mob.

    This government are evil and need to be chucked out ASAP.

  9. FireMel

    Great to see independent media talking about this, so keep it up! I need to ask though, how do we expose these doings to all the population and change things for the better?

  10. king1394

    Most people being pursued for debt are people who did their best to get and do some work. With casualisation, part-time work, and labor-hire and short-term contracts, they need to be on Centrelink benefits as well for the shortfalls. But with the system playing averaging games with a year’s income, it becomes very difficult. If you worked for six months with a job paying a decent wage but were unemployed for the other six months, you are going to be made to explain, and pay a non-existent debt if you can’t. How is it the system is unable to use the declared dates of working to establish eligibility for payments?

  11. roma guerin

    In addition to all the horror stories I have read about this automated system, I have a friend who lost everything on Black Saturday. She and her husband have been in the class action which has now been settled in court. They received a letter from the legal firm with the cheque for personal injury claim, plus a notification from Centrelink advising that, in her case, $12,000 has been paid directly to the dept. Due to her injuries she has been unable to go back to work as a nurse. Go figure. She told me that another survivor who had been receiving a disability pension for many years before Black Saturday has had her pension reduced to a pittance because of receiving a small payment from the class action. How on earth they will manage from now on beggars belief.

  12. Stephen

    Reclaimed with angst – $300M from the poorest in the community.
    Yet the govt continues to ignore obvious savings such as:
    – $4B/yr cost due to negative gearing loss claims,
    – $12B in CGT discount claims,
    – $x Billions NOT PAID by the 670 largest companies in the 2014-15 financial year:

    Still, MT wants to gift the banks $40B in tax breaks among other stupidities – the LNP make no sense at any level. Lucky for the govt of the day that the MSM is corrupted, else the general public would be revolting.

  13. rossleighbrisbane

    Fire Mel: You could start by sharing some of the stuff you read on independent media like Jennifer Wilson’s
    Write letters to the mainstream media – some of them may get published. And just tell your friends. It’s amazing how much one person can do by just alerting a couple more people who spread ideas to a couple more and so on!

  14. Michael

    LNP ideology = Not enough enemies outside to deliberately instill fear, loathing, ignorance, confusion? – Create enemies inside!!! – preferably those least able to resist and is not a member of the creator’s clique/privileged – then present yourself as our saviour.

    And here I always thought that governing was a privilege to SERVE and government was for all citizens and the public service was citizen’s friend.

  15. Andreas Bimba

    Anyone who votes for the Liberals or Nationals should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

    All of these repayments to Centrelink should be independently audited and compensation paid in case of errors. The politicians and senior bureaucrats responsible should be dismissed from office.

  16. jamess

    According to a woman working at Centrelink they have not had a pay rise in 5 years and are nearing the point of taking strike action. Getup has begun a campaign to apply pressure to the corporate/govt.

  17. iggy648

    Here’s a good trick. Centrelink wrote to me asking for extra information after I told them about a change in my circumstances. I wrote back, and sent the information I thought was relevant, and sent it by express post. Australia Post tracking showed that it had been received 8 days before their deadline. 8 days AFTER their deadline, I received a letter telling me that my age pension had been suspended because I failed to reply!! Multiple uploads on my Centrelink account and real paper letters to the addresses I had been given were totally ignored for TWO MONTHS! Finally I discovered on an unrelated website, that you have to lodge a particular form to get your case reviewed, and you should post a printed copy to your nearest Centrelink office to have any hope of getting a review. About 10 days later it was reviewed by an actual human being and she reversed the suspension and organised to pay back what I was owed, thankfully before Christmas. Here’s a challenge for you. Go to the Centrelink website or the Human Affairs website and find the form that you need to fill in to have a decision reviewed. Then find any mention of the fact that you won’t get the decision reviewed without filling in this particular form. See who can come up with the link to the form first! Lodge the time with your link. Countdown starts now, 6:45 pm Thursday 5th!

  18. wam

    is this not applicable?


    rossleigh why is labor leaving all the work to others?

  19. Rossleigh

    Meanwhile, Sussan Ley shows the government’s concern for taxpayer funds by claiming expenses for a trip to the Gold Coast where she bought a property. But it’s ok because she was seeing “stakeholders” who can’t be named for privacy reasons.
    The $800,000 purchase was an “impulse buy”!
    Surely someone who has nearly a million bucks lying around for impulse buys could help out the poor taxpayer by not claiming a mere few hundred for her trip….

  20. win jeavons

    I think I should go back to bed for, say, 100 years!

  21. Jason

    You can’t repay government debts with a foreign currency only AUD which is what drives demand for our sovereign currency.

  22. SJ

    It says in the bible the meek shall inherit the earth. Let’s see what the future holds for the meek and what it holds for the greedy . If only we all spoke our truth .

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