The Commonwealth Ombudsman has agreed to my request to again investigate robodebt because the Federal Government’s announcement that it will repay robodebts does not include people who appealed their debt, many of whom had an unsatisfactory or unfair outcome from this process. Many thousands of people are affected by this and won’t see a cent of the $1.2 billion settlement.
This is the fourth time that the Commonwealth Ombudsman has agreed to my requests to investigate the robodebt process since I first raised this matter in December 2016.
In other words robodebt lives and the Government’s claim otherwise is just the latest nonsense. Indeed I am still having constituents contact my office each week in tears over their robodebt. For example one constituent had several robodebts raised against her totaling nearly $7,000 dating back a decade. The debt was clearly unwarranted, but because she unsuccessfully appealed it there is no possibility of accessing any of the $1.2 billion. In another case, the constituent had several debts raised against her for $10,917 dating back to 2010. She can see no justification for this debt but again has no recourse because she has already unsuccessfully appealed. In both cases the appeal process was as flawed as the original robodebt.
Of course no amount of money can compensate for the stress and anguish felt by robodebt recipients. But it’s up to the Government to step up to the plate and remedy this by repaying all debts calculated using the flawed robodebt system, including those who did the right thing by questioning the accuracy of their debts.