Test case wallops robodebt system
THOUSANDS of Tasmanians hit by a Centrelink robodebt notice are being urged to sign up for a class action after a landmark legal decision this week.
About 6500 people hit by so-called robodebt notices have already registered for a class action launched by law firm Gordon Legal.
But thousands more are being urged to register after Victorian woman Deanna Amato’s test case established that debts raised through tax office data-matching alone were unlawful.
The historic decision comes just a week after Centrelink stopped using income averaging as the only method of raising debts. It now requires additional proof.
Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Kym Goodes said the verdict confirmed the robodebt system was “flawed from the start” and many of Tasmania’s most vulnerable experienced “unfair, impersonal and damaging treatment”.
“Robodebt has achieved nothing positive,” she said.
“It will take years and considerable change to reverse the damage that has been done to people’s confidence in the social security system.”
Ms Goodes called on the Government to apologise, proactively ensure all debts collected were calculated correctly, and to refund those who were incorrectly targeted.
Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said the decision proved the scheme was “illegal” and encouraged people whose money was “taken from them wrongfully by robodebt” to get involved in the class action.
The Human Services department settled the case with Ms Amato, after it had claimed she owed $2754 and had seized her $1700 tax return. The 34year-old had her debt wiped, was refunded the full amount, granted $92 interest and had her court costs covered.