Tag Archives: Bastardry

Bastardry – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

Image: robodebt.royalcommission.gov.au

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