Centrelink’s robodebt scheme has faced mounting concerns from both experts and the general public, and will now face a fresh challenge: a class action.
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten has released an official statement announcing that Gordon Legal, who took on the likes of big Tobacco and Thalidomide, will now launch a class action on behalf of the victims of the “harsh and inaccurate robodebt scheme”.
“Since becoming the Shadow Minister for Government Services I have formed the view that the toxic robodebt scheme, put in place in mid-2016, is built on shaky legal foundations,” he stated.
“The Government has used a flawed calculation system to unlawfully take back millions of dollars from pensioners. The Federal Government has financially benefited by wrongfully taking and banking money that legitimately belonged to recipients.
“The robodebt scheme - including its reverse onus of proof - is at best legally dubious and should rightly have its legality determined by a court.”
Shorten said legal actions by robodebt victims had ‘invariable resulted’ in the government waiving or dramatically reducing the claimed debt, but claimed the “individual nature of the actions has meant the legality of robodebt generally has not been tested”.
Shorten said, in this action, lawyers for robodebt victims would argue that the Commonwealth has been ‘unjustly enriched’ by amounts of money it has ‘falsely recouped’ from recipients of inaccurate debt compliance notices.
“Labor supports legitimate debt recovery and data matching provided it has proper human oversight. Robodebt is none of these things.”
Shorten tweeted robodebt was ‘very likely illegal’ following the announcement, and said it would ‘have its day in court’.
Robodebt is very likely illegal. Now it will have its day in court as Peter Gordon who fought Asbestos, Big Tobacco and Thalidomide announces a class action against the Government’s toxic scheme. #robodebt pic.twitter.com/KnH5sB6PZc— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) September 17, 2019
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