Bastardry – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon


Note: this poem is a result of my blood boiling over from years of federal govt inaction (Until the recent change of govt and the implementation of the Royal commission) over unjust and unfair treatment of welfare recipients. Robo debt is an online process of debt recovery by a govt dept from welfare recipients deemed to be overpaid or who are not entitled to payments. The process used an averaging system. It might seem to be a storm in a tea cup until you realise that this process was prosecuted fully against the most vulnerable people in Australia and that the averaging was a false process, it took one off payments or fluctuations in income as regular and averaged that as annual income and calculated a debt on that basis. So that a welfare recipient who might have claimed unemployment or part time employment under the threshold and welfare to top up, who declared a cash job of $80.00 was deemed as earning $2, 000.00 and should repay that amount against their welfare received. This meant that the Dept. viewed this as either infringing reporting, falsely declaring, or at the very least owing the govt. The debt didn’t exist but no one in the previous government was bothered. The Commission is in full flow and a picture is emerging of error and misdirection, which has deeply affected people’s lives. The findings will evolve to recommendations for govt to take action, and the way will become clear for those affected to take legal action. Little joy for those whose family members took their lives in response to overwhelming pressure and loss of hope, and those whose mental health was wrecked.

Govt and debt is a slippery slope – the full federal court ruled in 1984 that the dept – Centrelink, bore the onus to prove debt and not the recipient.

“The reason that robo-debt is an issue for law and lawyers is a simple one. It is because the debts do not exist in law.” Professor of Law Terry Carney AO in the Legal Studies Journal 1.8.19


How does $80.00 become $2, 000?
That's really good interest, 
magic you might say,
where can I get that?
But no, this is not your bank or 
your retirement fund director calling
with this fantastic news.

The question revolves around that
iniquitous and devious method called
income averaging for welfare recipients,
a smoothing (sic) in some parlance,
an online compliance process,
targets must be met, 
the budget must swell.

As a result,
if you did earn $80.00 once off
it was imagined by
the government no less
in a sweet Uriah Heep glaze,
that you were in fact earning weekly,
at least fortnightly, over a year of
your pain encrusted desperate life.

It didn't matter that you weren't in fact earning,
this nightmare held you in its drenched talons
as guilty until proven guilty,
the travesty,
priest as judge and executioner,
no redemption,
no voice,
no hope,
just an endless suicide.

Copyright 2023 ©Paul Vincent Cannon
All Rights Reserved ®️ 


Filed under Economics, Free Verse, injustice, poem, politics, quote

15 responses to “Bastardry – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

  1. The situation is probably decided by people who have no idea what it’s like to take joy in earning $80 and probably never had to work hard their entire life

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you, Paul. It should never have happened. Surely, someone who understood the ramifications could have stood up and denied the program – there are smart people left in those silos, aren’t there? Or do I live somewhere other than Oz?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought that too, and it is coming to light that there were indeed such people but they were silenced or removed. The ombudsman was deceived, Professor carney was dumped from the AAT, and the list went on. I have deliberately subjected myself to watching some of the hearings because I had family and friends and people I supported through my work who were caught up in this. Having experienced and seen, I can no longer see that there is anyone in that silo who has a conscience and i’m deeply troubled by that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I may be missing something, but this robodebt makes no sense at all, from beginning to end.


    • Know – that’s it, it makes no sense, but it became the means to bludgeon the vulnerable, driving some to suicide and others to ill health. The averaging was a lie, the debt never existed – it was manufactured by algorithm on single or fluctuating incomes – which enabled the dept to blame the recipients of taking welfare while they were earning (when they weren’t). Pure evil. It was compounded by the agency at the coal face not being available when they’d issued demand letters and giving no grace on time. It was bad enough that this was dreamed up as a way of keeping the federal budget in line, it was bad enough that the then govt was vile (knowing it was illegal), it makes it worse that the public servants were part of the problem (unprecedented). Todays hearings have brought to light how intentional this all was.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for explaining. The poor suffer and most politicians live a life of luxury and try not to understand the lives of those who are suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow.. that is seriously dreadful policy… glad your poem is standing up to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lync56

    Wow well said – this has been a huge blight on Australian Politics


    Liked by 1 person

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