The Government Will Refund Millions Of Dollars To People Affected By Robodebt

Andrew Cummings
June 1, 2020

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert announced on Friday that the government would be proactively reaching out to those who were owed money with payments occurring in the 2020/21 financial year.

"We have advice now that shows that when the program started five years ago, the information for the use of averaged ATO income was not sufficient and further proof points were needed".

NSW Labor senator Tim Ayres said he was unhappy about the timing of the announcement, coming shortly after Prime Minister Scott Morrison had finished a major press conference in which he made no reference to it.

The government had wound back the scheme prior to the court decision.


At the moment people don't need to do anything to get a refund - but people with questions about their debt are being told to visit the Services Australia website or to call 1800 061 838.

The controversial system was ruled unlawful a year ago, with the Federal Court saying Centrelink could not have been satisfied the debt was correct.

Refunds will also be made for any interest charges or recovery fees paid on related debts.

The scrapped scheme matched Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink data to claw back overpaid welfare payments. "The Morrison Government needs to do more than announce this late on a Friday afternoon, they need to apologise to those hundreds of thousands of Australians affected by this".


The Morrison Government stressed that all other income compliance debts would continue to be subject to recovery, ensuring the integrity of Australia's welfare system.

Labor believes the government should be apologising for the distress it caused these people.

"He should immediately front the Australian public and apologise to the multitude of robo-debt victims who have suffered so much because of this scandal", he said.

Robodebt, officially known as the income compliance program, was introduced by the then Department of Human Services in 2016 to replace parts of a formally manual debt-raising process.


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