Robodebt victims ‘treated like criminals’ | Lithgow Mercury

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Victims of Robodebt were treated as “criminals” and have felt like “welfare cheaters” by Centrelink staff and collection agents, said the Federal Court. Hundreds of participants in a class action against the debt system robotic Commonwealth opposed to a settlement of the case for $ 1.2 billion. Fiona Forsyth QC, representing more than 600,000 members of the lawsuit Gordon, said that the use of spreading defective tools to increase revenue liabilities caused stress and humiliation to vulnerable people. The victims were “treated like criminals” and are “felt like cheating on welfare” while receiving rude calls from collection agents and Centrelink staff, said Forsyth. They have seen their tax returns seizures, were forced to take additional jobs or expensive loans, and have suffered adverse effects in their relationships and their mental health, sometimes leading to self-harm. One man, John, said he could not eat or sleep and he had lost his salary because he could not work while trying to prove that he had no debts to Centrelink. “The government is doing by being crooks while pretending to little people that what they did was wrong,” said he was in a statement read to the judge Bernard Murphy. Automated matching of tax data and Centrelink to increase debts to recipients of social assistance that the government claimed to have paid too was ruled illegal in 2019. The Commonwealth then settled the case without admitting liability legal. Under the settlement, which still requires final approval from the court, the victims would receive 112 million dollars in compensation, would be reimbursed to 720 million and have $ 400 million of illegal debts erased. Justice Murphy described it as a “good regulation” but also questioned how the final distribution of funds would be fair. “You have a number of people with strong claims and lower claims,” he said. “And rather than divide, the strong get all claims and weak claims get nothing.” Acting for Gordon Legal, Bernie Quinn QC defended the acceptance of the rules by the firm. “You have to ask yourself: do I risk losing everything or do I take what I can get?” he said. During this time, the project now reduce administration costs of 4.4 million final figure was criticized by Michael Hodge QC, acting for the Commonwealth. He also referred Gordon Legal plan to deduct additional $ 14,000 for the production of a previous video promoting the action. Hodge argued that the clip led to “unfounded claims” on behalf of persons not eligible to participate in the settlement. More than 500 people have raised objections to the settlement and many of them had “heartbreaking stories,” noted earlier Justice Murphy. Some applicants have complained that person in power was held responsible for the scandal of the public debt. Jennifer Miller said Thursday that robodebt played a role “very important” in the fact that his son Rhys Cauzzo committed suicide there are about four years after being pursued by Centrelink and collection agents. The case will return to court at a later date. Australian Associated Press


Pamela W. Robbins