Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Robodebt Constituency Statement - Mark Dreyfus QC MP

10 June 2020

The Morrison Governments Robodebt scheme is a cruel and cowardly extortion racket that intimidated innocent and vulnerable Australians into paying debts they did not owe.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

CONSTITUENCY STATEMENT -ROBODEBT

10 JUNE 2020

The Morrison Governments Robodebt scheme is a cruel and cowardly extortion racket that intimidated innocent and vulnerable Australians into paying debts they did not owe.

Its a scheme designed by the current Prime Minister which he expanded with the current Attorney-General to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from everyday Australians. This was money they had no right to take, money taken from people who had no ability to pay it.

People across my electorate of Isaacs contacted me desperate for help as the Morrison Government stole from their bank accounts and tax returns and threatened them with debt collectors and jail terms.

People from every suburb across my electorate were illegally held to ransom by this Governments grasping Robodebt scam. From Mentone to Patterson Lakes, Dandenong South to Aspendale, Dingley Village to Highett the list goes on.

Jane was hit with a $6,000 Robodebt because after she lost her partner to suicide in 2017, she returned to work full-time. Instead of looking over Janes case and seeing that her income had increased, Centrelink averaged her salary across the year and sent this single mother of two a bill for $6,000.

In 2018, a young hospitality worker Tyson came into my office with a Robodebt demand for over $4,000 which included a 10 per cent recovery fee because he couldnt source payslips with only 28 days notice. That year he only earned $21,000. They were asking him to cough up almost a quarter of his salary in a month.

And then theres the 62 year old woman who contacted me about her Robodebt demand for $4,000 allegedly owed from 2014. Centrelink is her only income so they stole the money from her Disability Support payments to repay the alleged $4,000 debt.

And all the people caught up in Mr Morrisons illegal Robodebt money making scheme were branded guilty until they could prove otherwise, when in fact the only people acting like criminals were this Government and its most senior people.

On four separate occasions in 2017 the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled the scheme illegal and on every occasion the Government did not appeal that decision.

So, for at least three years, the Government knew its Robodebt scheme was illegal. And yet they continued to extort millions of dollars they had no right to claim, from people who had no ability to pay, and threaten them with jail if they didnt.

The cowardice and wickedness shown by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government towards the people in my electorate of Isaacs and across the nation is unforgivable.

Its now long past time that the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the hapless Human Services Minister, and everyone else involved in this scandal took responsibility for this state-run extortion racket.

ENDS