Australia

Class action launched against Centrelink's controversial robo-debt system

Former leader Bill Shorten Source: AAP

Lawyers and former Labor leader Bill Shorten have unveiled a class action against Centrelink's controversial robo-debt welfare recovery scheme.

A class action is being launched against Centrelink's controversial robo-debt welfare recovery scheme.

Melbourne law firm Gordon Legal will argue the commonwealth must repay debts collected and provide compensation to people affected by the robo-debt scheme.

Senior partner Peter Gordon, appearing alongside Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten in Canberra on Tuesday, said he believed the scheme amounted to unjust enrichment in the eyes of the law.

Bill Shorten and Gordon Legal Senior Partner Peter Gordon announce the action at parliament.
Bill Shorten and Gordon Legal Senior Partner Peter Gordon announce the action at parliament.
AAP

The law firm issued a full statement on Tuesday, saying it was "taking up the fight on behalf of a large group of people who "have had their legitimate Centrelink benefits illegally clawed back by the Federal Government through its Robodebt scheme".

The law firm will challenge on behalf of affected persons the government’s use of a "flawed calculation system by Centrelink to unlawfully take back tens of millions of dollars" the firm said in a statement.

"The money for pensioners, carers, widows, students, farmers and unemployed people was taken from them due to a one-size-fits-all online compliance system."

The firm said then opposition spokesperson for government services Bill Shorten had raised the issue with them initially in 2016.

The basis for the challenge is that that the Federal Government financially benefited when it wrongfully took and banked money that legitimately belonged to recipients," the law firm said in its statement.  

More to come

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