Govt to pay back $721m wrongly raised through robodebt

Marco Green
June 1, 2020

Today has finally bought some good news for anyone who's been stuck in robodebt hell for the last few years - the government has announced it will refund $721 million worth of debts that it raised through the scheme.

"People do not need to do anything right now to obtain a refund for a debt raised wholly or partially using averaging of ATO data".

The colossal disaster that was robodebt involved an automatic system that sent inaccurate debt notices to thousands of Australians due to errors in their computer system.

The government announced on Friday that $720 million will be refunded for around 470,000 welfare debts thrown up by the scheme because of faulty income assessments made by the Australian Taxation Office.

Liberal backbencher Fiona Martin also defended the actions of Government Services Minister Stuart Robert, saying he was first aware of the problem in November 2019 and immediately paused the scheme.

Robert on Friday said "Services Australia will now put in place the mechanisms to start making refunds, including how affected customers are advised of next steps", he said. "Consultation will occur with stakeholders, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and clear communication is a priority, so people understand what it means for them".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison dodged the Robodebt disaster on Friday sending out a press release about the bungle just minutes after holding a press conference
Thousands on Centrelink are due for a massive payday as government announces $721million in refunds

In November past year the government walked back on some of the major elements of the scheme, announcing debts would no longer be raised based exclusively on the ATO data.

"This Friday afternoon it is a $720 million bungled robodebt scheme".

Known officially as the "Income Compliance Program", the robodebt scheme worked by identifying mismatches in reported income between Centrelink and the Australian Tax Office.

But Mr Pitt told Sky News be believed there was nothing to apologise for when conducting oversight of a large government program.

In a statement, Human Services Minister Stuart Robert said the Morrison Government "takes its responsibility for upholding the integrity of Australia's welfare system seriously".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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