Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is pushing the government to scrap its controversial robo-debt scheme after a Queensland mum said she believes her son Jarrad’s death was triggered by the pressure of a $2000 debt notice.
“The facts show that the system is failing,” Mr Albanese told A Current Affair.
Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert confirmed there had been 850,000 compliance reviews finalised since July 2015 and admitted of those reviews, 20 per cent of the recipients could prove that they didn’t owe a debt.
So, that raises the question, what happens to the people who don’t deserve the debt but can’t prove it?
“Many people who are vulnerable in these circumstances would just pay the debt even though it mightn’t even be owed. And that’s the concern here, is that there’s no human-to-human contact or interaction in this process,” Mr Albanese said.
Grieving mother Kath Madgwick said her son Jarrad was in a vulnerable state when notified about his Centrelink debt.
Jarrad had recently moved back home after he quit his job because of workplace bullying, he was struggling to find work and had also recently broken up with his girlfriend.
“He was already disappointed in himself – but that was the, the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Kath said.
It’s situations like the Madgwick family’s that’s pushed Mr Albanese to fight against the ‘robo-debt’ scheme in parliament and call for an immediate overhaul.
“They need to engage people in this process and not simply do it through a computerised system that pretends that it’s not dealing with real people who are vulnerable at a difficult time in their lives and treat them essentially just like numbers,” he said.
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