Tomorrow’s Senate Inquiry hearing at the Tamar Valley Centre in Launceston will hear statements from members of the community who will reinforce what a disaster Malcolm Turnbull’s bungled robo-debt system has been for vulnerable Tasmanians.
The hearing in Launceston will also hear evidence from community and advocacy organisations, the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania, the Launceston Community Legal Centre and the Community and Public Sector Union.
Liberal Senator Jonathan Duniam’s comments this morning during a radio interview were a testament to the Governemnt’s apathy towards this crisis when he admitted that robo-debts were still being issued despite the succession of horror stories coming out of the error-prone system.
SENATOR DUNIAM: There are quite a lot of people across the country who feel let down about the way the system has operated.
LEON COMPTON: Is it still going on, even this morning?
SENATOR DUNIAM: Yes, the system continues to operate.
Proving that he is not across the detail, Senator Duniam was also unable to answer how many Tasmanian’s have been affected by the first round of robo-debt letters.
LEON COMPTON: How many Tasmanian’s ended up being caught up in this and wrongly told that they owe money?
SENATOR DUNIAM: Look, I don’t know off the top of my head how many Tasmanian’s have been caught up.
As at 28 February, approximately 6,000 robo-debt notices had been issued in Tasmania and if national statistics are anything to go by, at least 20 percent of these robo-debt notices have been fishing expeditions to people who don’t actually owe anything.
We still don’t know how many people have paid debts that don’t exist and we are still waiting for the fall out of the next round of letters which will be issued after the Budget in two weeks. These letters are set to target aged pensioners and disability pensioners.
All the Turnbull Government had to do was continue to roll out the system put in place by the previous governments. This is another example of everything they touch turning to stone.
Never before has my office or my colleague’s offices been so inundated with calls on one issue. Far too many people have called me who are clearly distressed about this and far too many people have said to me that they’re too afraid to come out and speak for fear of retribution.
If Senator Duniam was serious about fixing the program he should have put his money where his mouth is and called on his Government to suspend the debt recovery months ago.
Instead of taking responsibility and admitting they got it wrong the Turnbull Government is having their credibility shredded in each of the Senate Inquiry hearings – and it’s only getting worse.
The Liberals can deny all they like that there are any problems but the evidence is mounting up – there is not a single witness who isn’t on the Turnbull government’s payroll who has spoken in favour of their flawed robo-debt system at any of the hearings.
This Senate Inquiry is doing what the Prime Minister wouldn’t – holding his Government to account.
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