Federal Court finds Robodebt illegal and forces government to act

The union representing Centrelink workers welcome today’s historic Federal Court order that finds the automatic Robodebt scheme illegal.

This decision brings the entire Robodebt scheme into question after the debt was found to be “not validly made”, and that a decision to withdraw money from a tax return was also invalid.

The CPSU is aware of over 600,000 individual debts; it is now clear that every single one of those debts is in question.

Even before the scheme was rolled out, people working in Centrelink were telling the department that the scheme was flawed and would cause serious problems. This proves that the department and government should have been listening to the concerns of the frontline workers from the very beginning.

The government needs to immediately lift the staffing cap and provide the department with a properly trained and stable workforce so the staff can follow through with reviewing all debts.

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, National Secretary CPSU:

“Our members are experts, they are on the frontline of this work, and this order shows they should have been listened to in the first place.”

“If you are a Centrelink worker on the phones right now or tomorrow, what will you say? Our members that work at Centrelink want to provide clarity and comfort to Australians who find themselves with a debt, but the government have absolutely vacated the field. In fact this decision was made with the government’s consent, that means it knows that this program was flawed but have no plans to fix it.“

“There will be hundreds of thousands of Australians rightly confused this afternoon, and the Morrison Government must provide clarity to the community and staff about exactly what this order means to all other debts, and what the government is going to do about it.”

“This decision will put more pressure on an already understaffed workforce. CPSU members are calling on the staffing cap to be lifted so that they can clean up the mess the Morrison Government has created.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Alex West 0427 359 316