200,000 Australians’ robodebt cases will be deleted

200,000 Australians’ robodebt cases will be deleted

Almost 200,000 people who have spent years battling Centrelink to settle benefit bills they do not owe will have any current Centrelink investigations closed. 

The federal government will close the cases of robodebt victims that are still being investigated, and any possible debt will no longer be pursued. 

The illegal debt recovery campaign began in 2015, when assistance claimants were falsely accused of owing money to the government. 

During the robodebt era, an algorithm, rather than a human, detected and chased delinquent payments, with the system capable of sending out 20,000 warnings per week, rather than 20,000 per year when people were engaged. 

Over $750 million was unlawfully recovered from 381,000 individuals. 

Amanda Rishworth, Minister for Social Services, stated that resolving the remaining cases will provide confidence to any Australians facing reviews. 

Ms Rishworth stated that prosecuting the claims would be costly and time-consuming, as well as destroy public trust in the welfare system. 

The public hearings for a royal commision investigating the robodebt scam will begin at the end of October. 

What prompted the royal commision on robodebt? 

Since its inception, the plan has been the subject of various investigations and enquiries, with the Commonwealth Ombudsman discovering major flaws in 2017. 

The robodebt scam was declared illegal by the Federal Court in 2019. 

The old administration promised to repay them in full at a cost of $721 million, and in November 2020 agreed to settle a $1.2 billion class action brought on by 400,000 plaintiffs. 

In June 2021, Justice Bernard Murphy authorised a $1.8 billion settlement that included debt repayments, debt cancellation, and litigation fees. 

He called the initiative a “terrible chapter” in Australia’s social security system.

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