Ombudsman’s robodebt report is here - narrow terms of reference but disrupts the “took action quickly” narrative…
Confirms then Minister Morrison’s responsibility for introducing the programme in 2015. For the record
70% of the debts in the programme were waived. Averaging was not “part” of the system, it was the efficiency that permitted scale, the threat that induced desperation
Their total indifference to the senate, civil society and er, us meant they never recorded their averaging. Manual search with 649 staff to find them all
High residual risk not all debts found, they coughed up an estimate of 2000-6000 or so missing. Not sure where that came from, wants everyone in the non refund group advised of review rights
Ombudsman underlines that @SenatorSiewert was correct in calling for all debts to be paused - people will recall the mini epic exchange about the risk of garnishing that persisted.
The report rightly points to the total freeze out on communication that occurred with the Amato consent orders. legal aid had a script for people to follow in invoking their legal rights, all they got was “uuummm we’ll get back to you”. Remembering being on radio with 1 of them!
Obviously headlines will go to the possibility refunded debts may now be recalculated. It would be cost prohibitive to do this at scale- the payslips/statements are simply not there. the government may wish to select some that fits its narrative.
Those who watched the last senate inquiry hearing will recognise the problem about averaged debts affirmed by the AAT. Recommendation 4 stresses something needs to be done. Amazing these people have not received CDDA payouts if the AAT won’t change
3.95! They are still at their funnelling of appeals five years on! Some weird pathology about business process over the statutory right to a formal review!!! Wild!
Reminder: bank statements alone do not suffice for a debt. seriously the way the ministers have sought to use bank statements to persuade middle Australia #robodebt was kosher was shameless. How many bank info only debts are still out there? Report fails to examine that!
Last point: I’m not comfortable with the Ombudsman’s weird belief that getting a person to accept the grossed up amount when there are no contemporaneous records is fair or reflects the now famed “rule of law”

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More from @DarrenODonovan

29 Mar
My followers might like to mute the hashtag #robodebt possible volume of tweets coming due to the senate hearing. Labour kicking off with knowledge of the AAT rulings. I hope we spend some time with DSS today, they have skated by for too long. They are the policy actor here.
Real monument to Senior Executive churn in the APS here. Nobody at the table was there at the time.
Senator O'Neil is asking why Sperling had to issue a decision quashing a #robodebt on December 3rd. Shouldn't it have been pulled?
Read 9 tweets
29 Mar
Prediction: the limitations of the AAT ICT and datasets are really going to come to fore in this robodebt inquiry hearing. They're not funded for a canary in a coalmine role really tbh
We're not going to get much on the governance lessons from robodebt today, as labour have decided to drill down the appointments issue.
oooo... scratch that: really pointed question about whether there was a research note communicated to the AAT membership? The answer: No.
Read 12 tweets
22 Mar
Another “Tomlin” case explores “how bad must centrelink mess up before it’s their sole responsibility?” Real bad mess up here but still not enough - AAT only quashes a dsp-FTB debt of 132k (yep!) due to special circumstances…
Firstly let us note, once more, that the organisation that failed to appeal a single robodebt AAT1 here chased a pretty vulnerable family for 132k after family won in the AAT1. Something something point of law ... happily AAT2 waived an extra 2k
Our latest Bureaucratic Brothers Grimm tale begins with a DSP grant in 2011. The applicant carefully attaches payslip and financial info. But “out of thin air” an error sails in. “You’ve told us you earned 68k” *gets put down for $40* Paragraph 28
Read 8 tweets
15 Mar
Right a plain(ish) language take on Friday's AAT #NDIS decision. 1. this is 'big' because as Federal Court recent commented if the extra agency power the AAT approves here exists it would be "a somewhat substantial revision to the present conceptions of this legislative scheme"
2. What did Deputy President Humphries find? He found that in addition to the well known reasonable and necessary test in section 34, the NDIA also has a 'residual discretion' to deny support under section 33. So even if something is reasonable and necessary, it can be refused.
The residual discretion 'created' by two words (yep, just two), in section 33. That says when approving a plan CEO is to "include reasonable and necessary IF ANY". The AAT found the words if any, give the NDIA the freedom to apply other criteria to funding decisions.
Read 16 tweets
15 Mar
Significant AAT #NDIS decision by Deputy President Humphreys. It backs the so called “residual discretion” to deny support under section 33, and argues s34 reasonable and necessary are not sufficiently tight to be only criteria. This is big.…
Humphries’ argument include the scenario of astronaut training as an example. Would it really be funded though? If it were a person off the street - value for money would fall ala the Sing case on Paralympic tennis, benefits unlikely to eventuate in circumstances
I reserve the right to edit after kids go to bed but stuff I dislike 1. para 68:
- the reference to “if any” in section 34 to me simply flags people’s needs could be met entirely thru mainstream supports system (34(1)(f). it doesn’t imply s33 can nuke a s34 compliant support
Read 8 tweets
13 Jan
Services Australia has lost its AAT2 action in a case that featured on 7.30 last year. AAT did overturn the AAT1 finding of pure administrative error in favour of special circumstances waiver based in part on the initial, unacceptable centrelink failings…
Nice sum up here of how any inaction or failure to react to received small print can insulate the debt from waiver as an “error” notwithstanding incorrect advice or reassurances were made by centrelink. Picture of the text of Paragraphs 39 and 40 of the linked de
Tribunal also favoured the view that each individual piece of correspondence from centrelink needs to be responded to - irrespective of it centrelink already has the information rather than framing the issue around obvious information held by centrelink on its systems
Read 4 tweets

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