Where is the proof?

Posted: January 25, 2017 in Ranting
Tags: , , , ,

It is surely a first that a President of the USA is being dragged to the courts considerably less than a week after his Inauguration. But it has happened–a crew of serious legal hitters have now filed a lawsuit against President Trump for his “…serious violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution created by the illegal payments he receives from foreign governments” as multiple breaches of the US Constitution. The argument is that nobody, including the President, is above the law.

We have our own question of government possibly being above the law and one that desperately needs proper legal evaluation and adjudication. I refer to the continued Centrelink debt recovery process that would seem to have become little more than theft.

Essentially the process is as follows. A computer runs an analysis of welfare recipients matched against taxation records. If a discrepancy is discovered, it is automatically assumed that the recipient of welfare payments is in the wrong. A letter is automatically sent out instructing the recipient of the matter, giving them a limited time to correct matters, after which the debt is assumed and collection processes commence. The fact that nobody has actually proved the debt exists does not seem to greatly worry anyone.

This data matching process is a quite legitimate and valuable tool. But there is a very important step missing – human validation. Plenty of cases have already been reported in the media where these debts have been raised when all that happened was something quite simple such as a spelling mistake or clerical error in reporting something. But rather than the collecting agency – our government – ensuring they have proof of the matter before commencing proceedings, you are deemed guilty until proved innocent and if necessary, forced to pay up. Again, where is the proof?

As has also been amply reported, even if you are trying to rectify an incorrect assessment, Centrelink has been requiring people to start making repayments on the debt even while it is still being challenged. Yet If you are trying to take something you do not actually have a right to, that is getting into the territory of theft. And when a debt is assumed with collection processes commenced when you do not even have proof of the debt being owed i.e. a right to the monies, then again we are getting into the area of theft.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, has adamantly denied that any of these assumed debts have been passed to debt collection agencies. But he is silent about the fact that copies of documentation from collection agents Dun & Bradstreet have been furnished to the media, demonstrating some of these assumed debts have already gone into the hands of agents.

A proper legal challenge needs to be undertaken into this entire debacle. And it needs to be a serious one that does more than just allow the likes of Tudge and his lackeys to keep parroting the same garbage. Public servants, who are currently legally banned from making any statement outside their Department, need to be granted direct exemption from prosecution or retaliation under the Code of Conduct, in order to give real evidence into exactly what has been going on. In contrast, the Department of Human Services has been threatening of prosecution of anyone who dares leak about this debacle.

We have also previously seen the extent to which the Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, is prepared to go in witch hunts for those who dare speak out. When someone leaked about how then-Prime Minister Abbott was ignoring Departmental advice about Defence salary and conditions and thus was making false statements, Lloyd committed senior resources to finding the culprit. When that failed, he resorted to public statements attempting to guilt other members of the APS into dobbing in the culprit. Fortunately, that failed as well. But in any pursuit of the realities of the forced Centrelink debt recovery program, whistleblowers also need to be granted direct exemption from any action by the Commissioner as well as by Departmental and Ministerial resources.

Our Prime Minister has had ample opportunities to instigate had a proper evaluation underway and place the entire process put hold until all this is sorted out. But won’t do that as the projected billions in ‘savings’ from the scheme are already factored into the Budget. Even a temporary halt of this apparent theft would just place more red ink on the Budget books and cause even more unrest within anti-Turnbull parties in government. So do not expect any reasonable or even humane action from our Prime Minister over this matter.

There is only one way in which this matter can be properly brought out into public light and the shoddy excuse for Ministerial conduct exposed for what it is. And that is a full legal challenge into the legalities of this debt recovery process, just as Trump’s pecuniary issues are being forced into the courts.  For our government and its agencies cannot hold themselves above the law in matters such as proof of debts being owed.

Over to you – any ideas on how matters should proceed?

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Ross sig

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