As the Centrelink debacle continues and the government resolutely refuses to pause the tide of debt notices – many of which describe debts that are not legitimate – it’s understandable that people would be looking for blood. According to the Australian Lawyers Alliance, those issued with inaccurate debts may be able to sue Centrelink.
It seems to me that there’s been such a systemic failure in the way this has been put together … that there is potentially an argument that [Centrelink] has breached its duty of care to its clients. If a person suffers a financial loss as a result of that, they may have a cause of action.
Despite calls from the Opposition to suspend the debt collection, social services minister Christian Porter is still defending the program – on behalf of his colleague Alan Tudge, who is on leave. He says the debts are “fairly and legitimately calculated after a very staged and methodical process,” despite strong evidence that this ‘methodical program’ involves chucking a pretty wide net over welfare recipients past and present.