Proof? Our government don’t need no stinkin’ proof!

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Ranting
Tags: , , , ,

Wow. Credit, where credit is due. We have a pretty darn good government…in one respect at least. They have invented a whole new way to make money. All you to do is have a government department send out debt notices to unsuspecting schlubs and the money just rolls on in. And here’s the best bit – you don’t even have to have any proof that they owed the money in the first place! Sheer brilliance!!

If it were not illegal for public servants to speak out, what stories might we be hearing come out of Centrelink and the Department of Human Services? We are already hearing enough whispers that the government was warned that the new Centrelink debt recovery system was a mess.

I can practically hear dear Sir Humphrey: “If you’re going to do this silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”

The reality is that this form of debt recovery is damn silly – and that is putting it very politely. Why? Because there is a little, apparently inconsequential thing, that has dropped out of the entire equation. It’s called Proof.

Centrelink’s wondrous new system is a data matching exercise. Various records are compared to see if anything looks amiss. And based on nothing more than that, DHS and Centrelink, acting on government instructions, estimate debt owed and start sending out the demand letters. And worse, apparently passing matters to debt recovery agents, despite Human Services Minister Alan Tudge saying they are not. Then there is a little thing of being deemed guilty unless proved innocent.

What the data matching does is highlight where something might be amiss. But that indication does not PROVE that the money is owed. Further investigation is needed to verify and prove. But our beloved government, they don’t need no stinking verification! Proof? Ha!

Here is where things get really interesting. Unless something is done to pull our expense-rorting leaders into place, we will only see more of this half-arsed approach. Someone comes up with a bullshit figure that they claim can be rorted out of the welfare system and hey presto, that is factored into the Budget figures. No need to establish who really owes money and how much. Absolutely no need for that. In our wonderful new world, close enough is apparently good enough to launch legal debt recovery based on someone possibly owing money.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is currently investigating the system. But the problem there is the Ombudsman is powerless. All that office can do is make recommendations. And government are entirely free to simply ignore them.

What is really needed is a proper legal evaluation of this system and its abortion of a process. Is a simple possibility enough to legally launch debt recovery? I very much doubt it.

There are some pretty damned dark clouds starting to gather. The pet project of our Prime Minister is digitising pretty much everything. And what can that be used for? For one thing, more data matching exercises that could be used to create even more bogus debt recovery. And why not – it is better than printing your own money. It makes people give you big chunks of their money, regardless of whether they owe you anything. Like I said – sheer brilliance. Unless your definition of brilliance excludes ripping off the innocent and throwing the rule of law out the window.

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Ross sig

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