Tuesday, 9 August 2022

    Robodebt to expand

    The Morrison government could target thousands of pensioners and other “sensitive” welfare recipients under a proposed expansion of the controversial robodebt scheme needed to achieve a promised $2.1bn in budget savings, the Guardian Australia reports.

    The documents, stamped “PROTECTED CABINET”, show the scheme would fall $600m short of its required budget savings unless it is expanded to hit “sensitive” groups originally quarantined from data matching.

    This would include people considered “sensitive” by the department: those aged 65 and over, those living in remote areas, and others considered vulnerable by Centrelink, including people who are homeless and those who have disabilities.

    “Estimated savings over the forward estimates cannot be achieved without undertaking sensitive cohort reviews,” says the early draft ministerial submission for the government services minister, Stuart Robert.

    According to the documents, the department would need to carry out an additional 1.6m income reviews over the next three years to reach the promised savings, including 350,000 debt-recovery reviews among “sensitive” or vulnerable groups.

    If Robert and the social services minister, Anne Ruston, support the plan, Scott Morrison’s cabinet will next month consider whether to begin what the department calls a “staged approach” to the expansion, according to the documents.

    Guardian Australia approached Robert about the plan. Asked if the government planned to include vulnerable people – including those aged 65-74, those living in remote areas, and people with a vulnerability indicator – in the income compliance program, a spokesman would only say: “The government is not considering any proposal to commence online compliance for vulnerable Australians.”

    The spokesman would not elaborate on whether over-65s were still being considered.


    Robodebt could target pensioners and ‘sensitive’ groups, leaked documents show (The Guardian)


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