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Almost 200,000 robodebt cases to be wiped

Case files are being wiped for more than 200,000 welfare recipients unlawfully told they owed money.

Case files are being wiped for more than 200,000 welfare recipients unlawfully told they owed money. Photo: ABC

Almost 200,000 people who spent years fighting to clear welfare debts they didn’t owe will have any active Centrelink investigations wiped.

The federal government will scrap the cases of robodebt victims still under review, with any potential debt no longer being pursued.

About 124,000 people were told they were under review for social security payments they had received, while another 73,000 were never informed they were under investigation for potential debts.

The cases were put on hold in 2019 after concerns were raised about the robodebt scheme.

The 197,000 people will soon receive letters informing them the investigations will not proceed.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said clearing the outstanding cases would offer certainty to any Australians with reviews hanging over their heads.

Ms Rishworth said pursuing the cases would be expensive and time-consuming and would undermine public confidence in the welfare system.

“The robodebt fiasco is something that should be of deep concern to all Australians,” she said.

“We know it had a significant human cost.”

Government Services Minister Bill Shorten said the government was committed to cleaning up the “shameful and illegal” scheme.

“We are removing any doubt that has been hanging over the heads of robodebt victims for almost a decade,” he said.

“These dodgy debts were raised by the former government in an illegal shakedown against some of the most vulnerable people to underpin their discredited surplus forecast.”

The unlawful debt recovery scheme started in 2015 and falsely accused welfare recipients of owing money to the government.

More than $750 million was wrongfully recovered from 381,000 people.

A royal commission into the robodebt scheme will begin public hearings at the end of October.

-AAP

Topics: Robodebt
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