‘Gordon Legal launched the [Robo-debt] action on behalf of an estimated class of up to 600,000 people last year , claiming the government unjustly enriched itself and breached its duty of care to people who “were vulnerable to any unlawful or unreasonable” action by the government.’
‘Last year, a Senate inquiry into the scheme took evidence that more than 2000 people died after receiving their initial robodebt letter, of which a third were considered “vulnerable” by the Department of Human Services. Chair of the inquiry, Greens senator Rachel Siewert, wrote a piece for Crikey saying that while correlation was not causation, she had been “told of five families (and there have been other media reports) who believe their family members’ suicides are connected to receiving a robo-debt letter”.’
And the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison “expressed regret”.
The way many people are treated by Centrelink officers – particularly after so much of their business was outsourced – means that people often have to be pretty desperate before they seek help from that organisation.
They also include in their numbers, many people who are not necessarily well-organised in their financial affairs. When you are desperate, you can easily make mistakes, and it is probably an insignificant proportion of beneficiaries of welfare packages who go out of their way to rort the system.
But, even if there was an innocent mistake, they are then faced with a government which, reluctant to alienate the wealthy – who include generous donors – turn a blind eye to the underpayment of tax by high earners, and turn, instead, to develop an openly illegal system to claim money which, in many case was not owing.
And when people cannot survive without their welfare benefits, they cannot afford to question the validity of the claim so, in many cases, they paid up.
The government was guilty of claiming money on false pretenses and they not only owe a refund – plus interest! – or a cancellation of the debt demand, they owe a bloody big apology!
(I am just a former maths teacher, but I could see, right from the start, that people receiving a regular income, but who lost their jobs, would have many weeks while in work when they were definitely not entitled to Centrelink benefits. But add in the weeks with no income, and the average fortnightly amount was not a true picture of actual income.)
A less than delicious irony in this matter is that the Minister responsible for authoring the scheme – Stuart Robert – is clearly a technology connoisseur, running up massive bills for home computer use, for which he then claims a refund (at our expense) from government.
Was he chased by debt collectors or subjected to the public shaming issued to Peter Slipper?
Does Christmas really fall in July?
Watching current events in NSW, we have a front seat view of how Ministerial conduct should be held in check.
And NSW is not the first state which normally comes to mind when you are trying to find any jurisdiction in Australia which is, or has been, not partly or wholly corrupt!
Mr Morrison has got too big for his boots.
His party has, rashly, allowed him to swan around in 2019 being variously Daggy Dad, or Mr Nice Guy, as well as telling porkies about Labor policies, and – because the ALP managed to make their campaign too complicated – the Coalition won the election against all the odds.
Miracle – my hat!
He blotted his copybook with the Hawaii trip, which his office initially denied was happening.
He did not make a good fist of the bush fires but he was saved by the bell from further criticism on that front when COVID-19 took centre stage.
We are now into the next bush fire season and I am sure the bookies are taking bets on whether rainfall from the La Nina will suffice to dowse the fires before they get out of hand.
Morrison’s current preoccupation is with trying to ensure no State Labor government gets re-elected.
The NT is a minnow and they are being useful in helping quarantine the returning Australians who have been desperate to get back, so they are not currently being under attack.
The result in Queensland will soon be known.
WA has always wanted to be separate from the rest of Australia, and it has massive resources which means that it does more to support the rest of Australia than do most states, so it avoids the extremes of Federal harassment.
The whitening of the reef continues apace, as does the melting of ice at the Poles.
Some islands on the USA coastline are disappearing into Chesapeake Bay, but those interviewed still blindly support Trump and his dismissal of the causes of the adverse effects of global warming.
And Morrison is a supporter of Trump – a side effect of which is the current trade attacks on Australia by China.
Let’s face it.
The world is in an almighty mess.
The desire for power and the greed of those who already have more than enough are pushing us closer and close to the abyss.
Maybe the Romans had it right – ‘Eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we die!’
How is it I usually end?
I am still trying, but time is running out!
What do we want?
How do we want it!
With real teeth!
When do we want it?
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