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Robodebt: Part man. Part machine. All crap.

Ok, I paraphrased one of the tagline from Robocop for the title but at least I haven’t stolen my entire media strategy from 1984

I did find the ABC’s framing of the robodebt fiasco in this tweet rather interesting.

ABC Politics @politicsabc

#BREAKING The Federal Government has announced it’s refunding 470,000 debts issued through the controversial #robodebt program at a cost of $721 million

ABC Politics@politicsabc

No, I’m not talking about the use of the word “controversial” instead of “illegal”. The idea that the government is refunding debts is such a mishmash of language and concepts I have to despair that the average person will ever have any understanding of what’s going on. I mean, you can refund money and you can forgive a debt, but what on earth does it mean to “refund a debt”? Particularly when it’s highly improbable that it was an actual debt in the first place.

Anyway, I’m not concerned with the past we need to move on and allow me to put on my Nostradamus hat and predict the future.

  1. If some journalist should have the temerity to suggest that the whole robodebt scheme was illegal, we can look forward to Scott Morrison “rejecting the premise of the question” before explaining, “We looked at the scheme and there were some discrepancies and we’re working through these to ensure that people haven’t been inadvertently issued with debt notices where they shouldn’t have been. Of course, we still expect people to pay back money where they’ve been overpaid and that’s what we’re seeking to do but we won’t be issuing any more debt notices to people who don’t owe money.”
  2. Now that the announcement has been made, we can expect no action from the government for quite some time. When Ray from Sunshine or Sally from Nimbin goes to a media outlet and manages to get their story told about how they had the money taken from their tax return/family payment, then we can expect Stuart Robert or Cormann the Barbarian to front the media and explain that this is taxpayer money and before it’s refunded we need to be sure that the person didn’t actually owe it. It will further be asserted that because said person hasn’t actually applied to have it returned it was reasonable to presume that they believed that they actually owed the money and didn’t want it back. However, if they wish to have the money returned then they should contact Centrelink for a form which they then send to the Tax Office and a short wait, they’ll be assessed and asked for evidence to prove that they actually filled out the correct form with their own pen.
  3. In the next few days, the individual making the trouble will either be given something to shut them up or some story will emerge of how they were convicted of animal cruelty, terrorism, fraud or, even worse, taking part in an environmental protest.
  4. At this point, there may be a series of stories about how nobody realised that they’d actually have to apply to have the money refunded, Morrison and others will say that of course that was the case and why did they think that it would be automatic because only those having a go deserve a go. Chris Kenny and other Murdoch miscreants will attack those owed money for being too lazy to check out what needed to be done and that it’s just typical of those who think that the world should be handed to them on a platter and if only they worked harder they could be like Rupert and given $50 million to keep regional newspapers going just long enough for the cheque to clear.
  5. If a followup story is done on how difficult the form is to a) find b) fill out and c) lodge, then a government minister will make the announcement that there needs to be a complete overhaul and that the government is looking into it, but we need to be careful because we are dealing with taxpayer money. As a result all repayments will be suspended until this is done. Nobody will think to point out that it’s actual the person’s money that was obtained under an illegal system.
  6. Josh Frydenberg will be trotted out to announce that they’ve only repaid $49,031 of the $721million thanks to superior economic management by the Coalition and as well as a bungle by Treasury, The Liberals will be hailed as GEM (Great Economic Managers) by certain economists, who know that when something goes right, it’s all down to them but if there’s a mistake it was because of Treasury.
  7. If some journalist should suggest that the reason that the full amount hasn’t been paid was because some people starved waiting, then Morrison will argue that starving was a choice because they could have always taken advantage of all the retraining opportunities and got a job, but “How good is living in Australia and having a choice?”
  8. People will take to Facebook to complain, because Twitter will have been taken over under orders from Trump because too many people were tweeting that Republicans were more upset about Kaepernick kneeling on the grass than a cop kneeling on George Floyd’s windpipe.

Yes, it seems farfetched but this 2020 remember!

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  1. David Stakes

    Yes the form will be convoluted and in English translated from Japanese Ikea instructions, designed to confuse. Another spot on piece is this.

  2. Presser#1

    Oh Geeze, Rossleigh, it doesn’t seem far fetched to me. More like a predictable script, which is of course your point. As the MSM – or what is left of it- fails yet again to contextualise the progressive steps in the process but instead reports each as an isolated occurrence of ‘news’ we sink further into the miasma of double-speak and news-speak of despair.

  3. Pam

    Cormann the Barbarian – my favourite today!

  4. MrFlibble4747

    Or perhaps they will say “This person is not registered as a user of the Covid-19 App and is therefore UnAustralian and will get no refund whatsoever!”

    And still no call for resignations! Who is accountable?

  5. Trevor

    A choice field of contemptible collatoral damage for Ross to choose from, and he managed to cover most, if not all the players, the played, and the LNP election plans for the next time Australians exercise their day of democracy and vote.

    As a footnote, MorriSCUM was treasurer when this robodebt began. It was heralded in a presser by MorriSCUM who stated that Centrelink and the Welfare budget will return $4 billion by an efficiency drive.

    And so Robodebt was stillborn by he who does not discuss on water matters, on his way to being PM.

  6. New England Cocky

    Geez Rossleigh, I am always concerned when the “Rostradameus Hat” emerges and prognostications about future events are made ….. only to see them eventuate, as predicted, though occasionally with even more catastrophic consequences than dreamed …… but what else could you expect from our greatest financial managers for at least doubling the national debt before COVID-19.

    Perhaps that is why I am reminded by this article of the HP Nelson and Roy Slaven television series hit from 2000 titled “The Olympics” where real life events followed the script very costly.

  7. Paul Davis

    Good read Rossleigh, thanks.

    NEC, delighted that the ABC are repeating ‘The Games’. Twenty years old but totally relevant to today. Loved the John Howard apology speech.

    Just watched Insiders. Attorney General Christian Porter is in my humble opinion a vile soulless master of political shitfeckery as trustworthy as a deathadder.

  8. LambsFry Simplex.

    It has been a bitter, irrational, cruel and pointless exercise from beginning to end, instigated by sick, unconscious juveniles.

  9. RomeoCharlie29

    I had been thinking that surely Stuart Robert would finally fall on his sword given the utterness of the debacle that this grossly illegal scheme has become but no, he still appears to explain how, in reality, it was just a bit misunderstood. Now I am reminded it began under Morrison. Shouldn’t we be calling for his head as a Minister responsible for conceiving and executing an illegal policy? Yes we should and I do so now. Resign Morrison, your already tarnished reputation is in tatters. You’re single-handedly responsible for a $721million disaster, not to mention the blood on your hands from those who were driven to suicide by this illegal scheme. Chickens, time to roost.

  10. Kronomex

    Stupid Ratbag…I mean Stuart Robert won’t resign because his maattee and fellow pentecostal religious looney Scotty from Marketing would get upset. Besides the extra goodies from the ministerial pig trough can’t resisted.

  11. Old bloke

    This morning on TV, the attorney general, Christian Porter admitted that Robodebt was illegal. Now if I were say a financial advisor and robbed 1000 people of their life savings would it be OK for me to say ‘I’ll pay it back?’ I think in reality I would get to pay it back and go to gaol. Apparently Scott Morrison as treasurer was the instigator of the scheme. I believe that Stuart Robert wasn’t a minister at the time. Some $721 million dollars of tax payers money is to be paid back and there will be damages to pay as well…more tax payer money. How come the people responsible for this illegal outrage will not go to gaol? It was a case of theft from poor people in an effort to get the budget into the black. Will they be charged with manslaughter for the suicides that occurred as a result of demands to pay back ‘the debt’? Send the bastards to prison!

  12. Aortic

    Can you imagine if this foock up and the job seeker debacle had been part of a Labor Government “ missteps” Sweet Tap dancing Jesus the Turdoch press would have been alight with we told you you can’t trust the Labor Government with the economy blah blah blah we would never have heard the end of it in the Daily Bellylaugh and the UnAustralian. Bolt Kenny, Henderson the IPA would be holding forth incessantly. But according to the Attorney General and the Treasurer, nothing to see here really. It is time for us to take to the streets.

  13. Sunshine

    I notice the government’s total 20 year waste of money The Jobnetwork scam; is getting back to work to scrutinise the unemployed.

    And the tax payer dollar and Frydenberg oversight money will be handed on ln Corporate welfare to private construction firms to

    maintain the housing ponzi scheme for as long as they can.

  14. Rossleigh

    Um, I just heard a Scott Morrison comment today which made me wonder if I am actually psychic or whether they’re just too fcking predictable….

  15. Socrates.

    Yes, the very definition of false consciousness. Denial= dont even know I am lying.

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