It has been revealed in senate estimates that a third of appeals over Centrelink robo-debts have resulted in debts being set aside by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal since the program began mid-2016.
From 1 July 2016 to 31 March 2018 out of 450 customers who did first appeals with the AAT:
- 416 cases have so far been decided, with
- 64% (265) unchanged,
- 2.4 % (10) varied,
- and 34% (141) set aside.
“The Centrelink robo-debt program rolled out from July 2016 is highly controversial and concerns remain that it regularly issues incorrect or false debts”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“This has caused immense stress to Australians who have accessed the social safety net and had to go back and prove a debt was not owed, often having to find paperwork from years ago to prove innocence.
“For a third of debts to be set aside for those who had the courage to actually appeal should raise concerns about other debts. One in three is a significant amount to overturn.
“I for one have not forgotten that there are many Australians still receiving incorrect or false debts to their detriment, and urge those that receive debt notices to interrogate and challenge the debt.
“The Government must abandon the automated debt recovery ‘robo-debt’ program and must reinstate human oversight when it comes to checking debts potentially owed to Centrelink”.