InDaily

Adelaide's independent news

Support

Govt compensation demand after Centrelink robo-debt ruled illegal

News

The Morrison government owes Australians hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation after the Federal Court ruled robo-debt was unlawful, says Labor.

Print article

The government should say how long they knew the scheme was unlawful, Labor’s shadow government services minister Bill Shorten demanded.

The controversial robo-debt was ruled unlawful on Wednesday, with the court saying Centrelink could not have been satisfied the debt was correct.

The decision comes after the federal government made significant changes to the debt recovery system, which has used data-matching to land people with debts they do not owe.

Shorten called it an earthquake decision.

“This is not the end of the robo-debt matter because there will be hundreds of thousands of Australians who went through stress, trauma, administrative headache,” he said.

“And if you believe some grieving families, it’s been the cause of suicide.”

The Greens have accused the government of defying the Senate after it refused to produce its legal advice on why it had decided to wind back robo-debt.

Senator Rachel Siewert said the government was evading responsibility.

“Clearly this government has something to hide,” Siewert said.

Wednesday’s decision centred around Victorian woman Deanna Amato, who was ordered to pay $2754 to the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs Centrelink.

Victorian Legal Aid took her case to the Federal Court and she was paid the $1709 taken from her tax return to cover the debt.

It “could not have been satisfied that a debt was owed in the amount of the alleged debt”, Justice Jennifer Davies decided in the Federal Court.

The justice decided Amato was also entitled to the interest earned on the money and the government was ordered to pay her legal costs.

On November 19, the federal government announced it was winding back the robo-debt scheme, which is also facing a potential class action lawsuit.

The Department of Human Services has told staff to not rely entirely on the robo-debt system and instead undertake further investigations to determine whether people owe money.

-AAP

Want to comment?

Send us an email, making it clear which story you’re commenting on and including your full name (required for publication) and phone number (only for verification purposes). Please put “Reader views” in the subject.

We’ll publish the best comments in a regular “Reader Views” post. Your comments can be brief, or we can accept up to 350 words, or thereabouts.

We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.

InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.

Powered by PressPatron

More News stories

Loading next article

Subscribe to InDaily – it’s free!

South Australia’s locally owned, independent source of digital news.

Subscribe now and go in the monthly draw* for your chance to WIN a $100 Foodland voucher!

Subscribe free here

*Terms and conditions apply

Welcome back!

Did you know it’s FREE to subscribe?

Subscribe now and go in the monthly draw* for your chance to WIN a $100 voucher!

Subscribe

*Terms and conditions apply