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Analysis

Tudge releases unauthorised documents, & where are the “leading” feminists?

2 March 2017
No Place For Sheep

Andie Fox is a single mother, chosen by Tudge as a scapegoat to distract from his astronomical incompetency. As I’ve noted in earlier posts, the power imbalance between Alan Tudge, Paul Malone of Fairfax, and Andie Fox is incalculable. As I’ve also noted before, there are thousands of complainants Tudge could have chosen to attack, however, he chose a single mother, one woman because, I suggest, he imagined her to be an easy target, and we know how the LNP feel about single mothers.
And yet not one leading feminist has seen fit to speak out about Ms Fox’s plight.

No need for Centrelink to prove your comments are adverse: they only need to think so before exposing you to media.

1 March 2017
No Place For Sheep

Further to yesterday’s post on the release to Fairfax media of private information by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, the minister has justified his decision to take this action on the grounds that he is entitled by law to reveal personal details if the individual has made complaints in the media Centrelink considers false.
In other words, if you complain in the media about Centrelink, your private information can be released by that department in its own defence.

Querying the Government’s Authority to “Correct the Record”

28 February 2017
Law and Justice: Latrobe Law School Blog

“We don’t comment on particular cases”. Few lines are more ubiquitous in the public sphere. It is no surprise therefore, that the controversy regarding the disclosure of an individual’s personal information by the Department of Human Services has touched off enormous media comment and criticism.

Fairfax and Centrelink unite in an unprecedented move to publicly persecute one woman.

28 February 2017
No Place For Sheep

Just to make it clear: Centrelink has released the private details of an individual citizen without her permission in order to present Alan Tudge’s “side of the story.”
In case there might be any doubt about Tudge’s intentions, Paul Malone and Fairfax have confirmed in their headline that Tudge’s only goal is to use the personal information of a citizen to present his side of the story.

Alternative facts in the Centrelink debacle

2 February 2017
Eureka Street

Over Christmas 2016 and the early weeks of 2017, Centrelink's new policy of automated online debt collection has been subject to conflicting reports, making us wonder what version of truth we might best believe.
The Minister and the department head are sticking to the assertion that everything is working fine. It would be surprising if these assertions were deliberate lies.
Yet there is another version of the truth, and it is compelling.

‘Just listen…!’: employee voice, Bundaberg Hospital & robo-debt recovery

25 January 2017
Griffith University News

Giving staff a say in what happens in their workplace in the hope that it will influence their employer’s operations and business affairs for the better is what employers want. Equally, employees wish to put forward views both for this reason as well as asserting their own interests. These are both what researchers refer to as ‘employee voice’.
The assumption cannot be made however, that formalised means of capturing voice (which are usually designed by managers and can look nothing like they were intended when implemented), resolves all the issues raised.

Australia, we need to talk about data ethics

25 January 2017
The Ethics Centre

Centrelink’s recent debt recovery woes perfectly illustrate the human side of data modelling. The Department for Human Services issued 169,000 debt notices after automating its processes for matching welfare recipients’ reported income with their tax. Around one in five people are estimated not to owe any money. Over Christmas, stories abounded of people receiving erroneous debt notices up to thousands of dollars that caused real anguish.
Coincidentally, as this all unfolded over the break, one of the books on my reading pile was Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. She is a mathematician turned quantitative analyst turned data scientist who writes about the bad data models increasingly being used to make decisions that affect our lives.

Dole-bludgers, leaners and other neoliberal fantasies

19 January 2017
Overland

Centrelink is in the news again after an automated debt recovery system with an overly simplistic data-matching algorithm effectively made up debts for some welfare recipients. This follows the gaffe in September 2016 when members of the Federal Government argued that welfare recipients who turn down paying work shouldn’t be eligible for government assistance. In a disappointing but entirely expected move, the government declined to fix the ‘debt-recovery’ system, in a continuation of their campaign to undermine welfare through continual cuts to unemployment spending.
These cuts are usually defended by the cultural construction of the ‘bludger’: a largely mythological figure who prefers a life on welfare over working and who needs to be discouraged from their idleness by the formulation of harsh laws surrounding the eligibility of Centrelink recipients, already struggling, in financial and emotional distress, far below the poverty line.

Where is Compassion and Concern for Dignity in the Centrelink Debt Collection Debacle?

19 January 2017
ABC Religion and Ethics

In the social services sector, religious voices are significant because faith-based organisations tend to be informed by values of justice, thus informing our choice of vocation.
While we might not always use explicit language about our faith traditions in efforts to be inclusive of all, the recent Centrelink Automated Debt Collection debacle has strongly reminded us of some of the biblical stories underpinning our advocacy.

The Robo-Debt That Doesn’t Exist

13 January 2017
Eigen Magic

After looking at where the headline $4 billion figure came from previously, we now turn our attention to another big number that’s getting bandied about the place: $1.7 billion in over-payments that the Government wants to claw back.
This number comes from the 2015-16 Federal Budget. The Hockey/Cormann budget. The “lifters and leaners”, let’s go smoke cigars within view of the cameras budget. You know the one.
Anyhoo, on page 116 of Budget Paper No. 2 [PDF] we find this statement:

Centrelink And The Mystery Of The $4 Billion

12 January 2017
Eigen Magic

I’ve been digging into the financial justifications for the automation effort, and it’s a convoluted beast. The numbers being bandied about sound good in a headline, but figuring out the real numbers has been surprisingly difficult. Little wonder that the stories containing any of the figures, particularly the ones used by Ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter, are confusing at best.
Here’s my attempt to unravel what’s really going on here. I’ll provide links to primary sources, rather than media reports, where I can.

How Turnbull plans to raise $4.6 billion from unemployed.

11 January 2017
No Place For Sheep

The Turnbull government plans to raise a windfall of $4.6 billion over the next four years, and this is how they intend to do it.
Centrelink is averaging annual earnings over every fortnightly reporting period. This means that you are determined by them to have earned income at the same time as you received unemployment benefits. Therefore, you must pay those benefits back.

Bearing the brunt of state-sanctioned thuggery: the Centrelink debt debacle

9 January 2017
The Australian Independent Media Network

In a classic operation, most commonly perpetrated by telephone conmen and door-knocking scammers, the Turnbull Government has hit the jackpot. Boasting of returns of over $300 million after hitting up only 169,000 Australians, someone deep in the murky depths of Government has clearly been taking lessons from the lowest of predatory scumbags.

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