1. Christian Porter, it is unethical to extort money from people with information that is just f**king wrong!
Richard Dennis says that the government should be a model litigant, but if a company did what it is doing to recover Centrelink ‘overpayments’ it would be fraud.
Andrew Griffin gives nuts and bolts of how it works.
There are estimates that 20% to 37% of the letters sent out are wrong, but I can’t see how any can be right. They take from the ATO what you earned for a financial year, divide by 26, and then infer that is the amount you earned every single fortnight, including those when you were receiving benefits, when you may have not been earning anything.
You are invited to go onto their computer site, where the only thing you can do is confirm the total of how much you earned. Then instantly, without human intervention, you are hit with a letter of demand.
For some who have changged their address, the first they know is when a debt collector appears at their door.
- Australian information and privacy commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, also issued a statement on Friday, saying his office was in contact with the Department of Human Services.
The Commonwealth ombudsman is on the case.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights say “The whole procedure is quite unethical and a complete abuse of legal process.”
Albo turned up with Tony Barber:
- a cancer survivor who Centrelink issued with a $4,500 debt from 2010.
Barber had been recovering from chemotherapy at the time he claimed welfare – the first and only time he has received benefits – before recovering and returning to work in early 2011.
Andrew Wilkie told the 7.30 Report on Wednesday that he’d had four people in his office suicidal.
Worse still, the Murdoch press and A Current Affair have been criticising the government. Time to act, Malcolm, it’s an extortion racket.
It seems that if you get your face on television, you get instant service.
Centrelink staff will soon receive “Advanced Customer Aggression Training”. Not a surprise.
2. Sawatdi pi mai khrab!
After that rant, I believe that the Thai words above, from Mark’s Facebook, mean:
- May you find compassion, loving kindness and equanimity along your paths over the next year!
Seems like not enough words, but I’ll take it as given. I think it is lovely.
While we are at it here are 99 reasons why 2016 was a good year.
It’s good to know, for example, that:
Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since 2000, thanks to improvements in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to ARVs. Quartz
Mobile phones made significant inroads in the fight against rabies, a disease which kills more people annually than all terrorists combined. Ars Technica
- The Greens are facing more factional turmoil, as the partner of Greens senator Lee Rhiannon [Geoff Ash] publicly attacks the federal party and party room, and defends a new hard-left faction that is openly antagonistic towards the leader, Richard Di Natale.
It’s a shame.
4. Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption final report
The final report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (TURC) was released into the dead news zone between Christmas and New Year.
In all, 45 individuals and companies to police, prosecutors and regulators. Paul Karp says:
- Referrals ranged from alleged criminal matters such as corruption offences and perjury down to alleged civil breaches such as industrial coercion and breach of trade union officials’ duties.
Karp says that many recommendations would interfere with day-to-day running of unions, and that unions are being held to a more onerous standard than corporate Australia.
That’s probably because there are so many ‘louts, thugs, bullies, thieves’ among unionists, according to TURC, and the government’s continued rhetoric. Van Badham says that female union bosses are destroying the thug image forever. Union leaders are now more representative of Australians than the LNP front bench.
She details 13 female union leaders, from Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Ged Kearney to Sharon Burrow, arguably the most influential trade unionist in the world as president of the International Trade Union Confederation representing 180 million people in 163 countries.
5. Extra second
2016 was a leap year, but an extra day was not enough to synchronise us with the planet’s movement, so an extra second was added. I hope you made good use of it!
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.