Court approves $1.2billion robodebt settlement

Massive $1.2billion settlement to Centrelink robodebt victims is approved as judge blasts 'shameful' scheme that drove several people to suicide Disastrous robodebt scheme will cost taxpayers another $1.2billion in damages Federal government settled the class action with 640,000 victims Scheme used AI to automatically calculate and chase Centrelink debts However, it was frequently, and wildly, wrong and did enormous damage 

By Australian Associated Press

Published: 07:28 BST, 11 June 2021 | Updated: 07:43 BST, 11 June 2021

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A judge has approved a $1.2 billion settlement between robodebt victims and the federal government while blasting the scheme for being a 'shameful chapter' in public administration.

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Justice Bernard Murphy on Friday said the use of flawed income averaging tools to raise debts caused vulnerable people financial hardship, distress and anxiety.

Many felt shame and hurt at being wrongly branded 'welfare cheats', he said, with some driven to take their own lives.

The settlement distribution scheme had also resulted in a 'huge waste of public money'.

'The proceeding has exposed a shameful chapter in the administration of the Commonwealth social security system and a massive failure of public administration,' Justice Murphy told the Federal Court.

A judge has approved a $1.2 billion settlement between robodebt victims and the federal government while blasting the scheme for being a 'shameful chapter' in public administration

A judge has approved a $1.2 billion settlement between robodebt victims and the federal government while blasting the scheme for being a 'shameful chapter' in public administration 

It should have been 'obvious' to the government that many welfare recipients do not earn a stable or constant income, he said, and may only be employed on a part-time, casual or intermittent basis.

However, Justice Murphy was not convinced the federal government knew the robodebt scheme was unlawful from the start.

'I am reminded of the aphorism that, given a choice between a stuff-up and a conspiracy, one should usually choose a stuff-up,' he said.

The 648,000-strong class action was led by Gordon Legal.

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Justice Murphy approved $8.4 million in costs to the firm and said the 680 people who objected to the

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