When it comes to Australia’s “irrelevant” Crimes against Humanity” things do not get much more bizarre than the Abbott Government paying welfare benefits to ISIS terrorist combatants using “The benefit of doubt” or “Beyond reasonable doubt” logic whilst using “Balance of Probability” logic in spurious, fraudulent torts against impoverished welfare recipients.
- The following text comes from a Federal parliament HANSARD file dated Thursday, 26 February 2015 . It starts at Page 21 of the Hansard record of a COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE inquiry into Centrelink’s extremely dis-functional, 30-year old ISIS computer system.
- Please, read, everything to get full insight into the different treatment that the Abbott Government gives to ISIS terrorists and Australian welfare recipients.
So, Who’s Who?
- Ms Campbell is Kathryn Campbell – The Secretary of the Department of Human Services.
- Mr Jongen is Hank Jongen – The manager of the DHS media unit.
NOTE: I Underlined some of the text for emphasis.
HANSARD INSIGHT INTO HOW TONY ABBOTT USED Centrelink’s ISIS TO FUND ISIS TERRORISTS.
Senator CAMERON: Can I come back now to the benefit of the doubt, which The Prime Minister has indicated Centrelink is giving people who are a threat to the community. I think I got to the stage where I was asking how many people you had doing public relations and media work. It was over 70.
Ms Campbell: Yes.
Senator CAMERON: Who is in charge of that media unit?
Ms Campbell: Mr Jongen is in charge of the media unit. We will ask
Mr Jongen to come to the table.
Senator CAMERON: Mr Jongen, how are you?
Mr Jongen: I am very well, Senator.
Senator CAMERON: You have a fairly big team working for you—70 people.
Mr Jongen: I think in the context of the amount of media that we are engaged in, it would be an acceptable number. It is a big team, yes.
Senator CAMERON: If I need to know about the complexity, I will ask. We have a situation where the first that the department knew that the Prime Minister had a concern about the department giving the benefit of the doubt to people who would do harm to the community was when the Prime Minister made the statement. What did you do after you heard that—apart from maybe faint?
Mr Jongen: I looked at it in the context of the broader issue, as the secretary has already indicated, which is in relation to potential terrorists overseas, if you like. Having been aware of the fact that we are very limited in terms of the powers under the Social Security Act, it was actually a fair call.
Senator CAMERON: It was a fair call. So you agree that Centrelink is giving the benefit of the doubt—
Mr Jongen: I didn’t say that.
Senator CAMERON: Just let me finish. You are saying it is a fair call. So you must agree then that Centrelink is giving the benefit of the doubt to people who would cause harm to the community. Is that right?
Mr Jongen: I did not say that. What I meant was that the Social Security Act has limitations. Those limitations in this space probably would result in the sort of statements that the Prime Minister made.
Senator CAMERON: Ms Campbell has just been at pains to go through all the checks and balances and all the internal systems and external systems to deal with this. So I am a bit confused that on the one hand we have evidence earlier that says if someone uses their passport to go overseas then that payments will be stopped. You accept that.
Mr Jongen: Yes.
Senator CAMERON: What do you believe this ‘benefit of the doubt’ is then?
Mr Jongen: Firstly, I am not a subject expert. You are asking me my personal opinion.
Senator CAMERON: No, you are not here in any personal capacity. You are here as a senior public servant. That is the capacity you are in. That is what I am asking you. I am not interested in your personal view.
Mr Jongen: All I can say is that there are no provisions under the Social Security Act, particularly at the time that the Prime Minister made these comments, that actually prevent people of, let us letter say poor character, from travelling overseas.
Senator CAMERON: So people who are engaged in harming the Australian community?
Mr Jongen: That is correct. Those provisions do not exist under the Social Security Act.
Ms Campbell: The department’s interpretation of the comments was the legislative framework in which we operate.
Senator CAMERON: Which has checks and balances, as you have indicated.
Ms Campbell: But until recently, when the foreign fighters legislation was introduced and passed through the Parliament, there was not a power to suspend or cancel a payment if someone was suspected of terrorist activity.
Senator CAMERON: When did the foreign fighters legislation go through?
Ms Campbell: At the end of last year.
Ms Golightly: In November.
Senator CAMERON: When did the Prime Minister make this statement?
Ms Campbell: The prime minister made the statement recently.
Page 22 Senate Thursday, 26 February 2015
COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
Senator CAMERON: Well, I will not ask you what the Prime Minister was thinking, because nobody knows that these days. There could be some reputational damage to Centrelink. The statement that the Prime Minister made was that you are giving the benefit of the doubt to people that could harm the community.
Senator Payne interjecting—
Senator CAMERON: Can you let me finish?
Senator Payne: Certainly. I thought you had finished.
Senator CAMERON: Good on you. You have 70 people, Mr Jongen. Do you engage with, say, the Alan Joneses, these shock jocks who are out there running these arguments that there is a system in chaos? How do you deal with that? What do you do to engage and get the story that we heard this morning—not your story because
they are a bit different—but the story from Ms Campbell. I’m just worried that you have a different story from Ms Campbell. But, anyway, what do you do to engage with the commercial media?
Mr Jongen: I have a regular cycle of talkback sessions across most key talkback stations. The agreement that I have with those stations is that I do a 30 minutes segment during which I take questions from customers and deal with their issues. Basically, as part of that discussion, part of my role is debt prevention rather than fraud detection. That means that I talk about people’s obligations, the requirements that they need to meet and the fact that they should be honest in their dealings with us, et cetera. That becomes one of the central themes. On occasions, if I am asked, I also deal with issues of fraud prevention, but always at a very general level. I talk about the fact that we undertake data-matching exercises with a range of government agencies and that we have internal data matching, all of which contributes to a very sophisticated system of fraud detection.
Senator CAMERON: So you do that ‘on occasions’?
Mr Jongen: Yes.
Senator CAMERON: When was the last occasion you dealt with that issue?
Mr Jongen: The last occasion, in terms of specific media, was actually not in talkback radio but on A Current Affair. I have also done interviews with Today Tonight. We work with those programs.
Senator CAMERON: When?
Mr Jongen: Two occasions in December were the last times. Can I make another point? I do not emphasise fraud on every occasion, because one of the central elements of my message is that the overwhelming majority of Australians are honest in their dealings with us. So although we have to be conscious of fraud, it needs to be always contextualised.
======================================================== [ MY COMMENT re: ”the fact that they should be honest in their dealings with us, et cetera.”
- Honesty is a two-way-street for most people; however;
- On May 16th 2011, Hank Jongen appeared on the 7 Network’s ‘today-tonight’ current affairs program and very aggressively spouted the “We will get you, we will get you”
- What he forgot to mention was at that time there was no actual law that required welfare recipients to report income, i.e. there was no “We will get you” law in place at that time.
- Not one word was mentioned about Centrelink’s manifestly dysfunctional ISIS system, and the nightmare problem of the 50 million per day keystrokes of data entered by people who were NOT professionally trained DATA ENTRY operators.
- Not one word about staff workload fatigue or morale problems.
- Not one word about the totally inadequate 6-week training program for call centre operators who would have to deal with both the antiquated ISIS computer system and the complex, constantly changing legislation for not only the Social Security Act, but also for other legislation, e.g. the Privacy Act.
- How many times has Hank Jongen told the public that Breaching is unconstitutional and a violation of international human rights obligations?
- How many times has Hank Jongen told the public that Work for the Dole is unconstitutional and a violation of international human rights obligations?]
Senator CAMERON: Sure, but you have a situation now where you are the head of public relations, basically. What is you title?
Mr Jongen: General manager, Communications.
Senator CAMERON: So you have a job to communicate with the public and with the media to get the real issues out there. The Prime Minister has made an allegation that the Department of Human Services is giving the benefit of the doubt to people who would do harm to the community. What communications strategy have you developed with your 70 media people and with the secretary to get the message out there that that is not a correct position?
Ms Campbell: Minister Morrison made a statement on the day after, I think—the Monday—indicating his confidence in Centrelink applying the legislation as it was in place, and that, if there were changes that needed to be made, they needed to be made in that legislative frame.
Senator CAMERON: Minister Morrison is a minister for DHS, is he?
Ms Campbell: Minister Morrison is the minister for the Social Services portfolio.
Senator CAMERON: Mr Jongen, what strategies, what planning, have you done to try to disavow the position that some of the shock jocks are running with now that DHS is funding people who would do harm to the Australian community? What strategies have you put in place?
CHAIR: Mr Jongen, just before you answer, we are due to break, so I will allow you to answer this question and then we will go to a break.
Mr Jongen: The issue here, of course, is that the difference is in accountability on the part of the Attorney-General and the Department of Human Services.
Senator CAMERON: Mr Jongen, please—
Mr Jongen: I just need to give you that—
Thursday, 26 February 2015 Senate Page 23
COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
CHAIR: Order! Senator Cameron, you have asked not to be spoken over. Mr Jongen is answering your question.
Senator CAMERON: No, I did not.
CHAIR: You did, actually, a couple of times when Mr Jongen tried to answer your question and inadvertently interrupted you. Could you please allow Mr Jongen to finish his answer?
Senator CAMERON: As long as it goes to my question.
CHAIR: He is entitled to answer his question as he sees fit. You can follow up questions later but Mr Jongen should be allowed to answer.
Mr Jongen: Senator, the answer I would provide would be that there are measures in place to ensure that, with respect to people who leave the country with the intention of doing harm to the Australian community, the Attorney-General can provide notification to us to ensure that payment is not made.
Senator CAMERON: Chair, that is not what I asked Mr Jongen. I have asked Mr Jongen what he has done, as the head of communications, to deal with this issue that has left the impression that the Department of Human Services is giving the benefit of the doubt to people who would do harm to the Australian community. That is the question.
CHAIR: Senator Cameron, you get to ask the questions. You do not get to advise the witness on how they should answer. He has had the opportunity to answer. It is past the time to break, so we are going to break for 15 minutes.
Senator CAMERON: All right, Mr Jongen; I want you back on this one.
Proceedings suspended from 10:33 to 10:52
CHAIR: I will come back to Senator Cameron with his line of questioning. Senator Xenophon is keen to ask some questions so after Senator Cameron I will go to Senator Xenophon.
Senator CAMERON: I should not be too long. Mr Jongen, could you come back to the question I asked, and that is, what you have done in terms of a strategy to deal with this issue that the impression is out there that DHS is giving the benefit of the doubt to people that would do harm to the community. What have you done with your staff of 70 to provide some media response to this issue?
Ms Campbell: As Mr Jongen’s senior officer, I have not asked him to undertake any work of that nature. I considered that the statement made by Minister Morrison about the legislative framework in which the Department of Human Services operated had addressed any concerns.
Senator CAMERON: In my memory, this is probably the biggest issue that DHS have faced, certainly in light of the current government. Your media people—you have not asked for anything? Did the media people offer up any strategy to you?
Ms Campbell: I have not asked for any strategy. I do not see that there is a need for any strategy.
Senator CAMERON: Okay. If the media, as they have been doing, say that people on DSP and Newstart are over there doing harm to the community, do you not see any need to respond to that?
Ms Campbell: We respond within the legislative framework. We explain the Social Security Act and how payments can be suspended or cancelled. We talk about the foreign fighters legislation and the provisions within that legislation and we note the responsible parties within that legislation and their roles.
Senator CAMERON: Mr Jongen, do you want to add anything to that?
Mr Jongen: No, Senator.
Senator CAMERON: I didn’t think you would. What is the budget of your department, Mr Jongen?
Mr Jongen: I am going to have to take that on notice. I am sorry. I do not have those figures available to me. Off the top of my head, to assist you, it is around $9 million.
Senator CAMERON: So we spend $9 million on communications and neither the secretary nor you think that reputational damage to DHS should be dealt with by any media strategy or media response?
Ms Campbell: The money that is spent on the communications division is very focused on ensuring Australians are aware of the conditions under which social security payments are made. Mr Jongen talked about the opportunities he takes to ensure that people are meeting their needs, understanding how payments work, in a very proactive manner to ensure that Australians are informed.
[ MY COMMENT S re: “The money that is spent on the communications division is very focused on ensuring Australians are aware of the conditions under which social security payments are made.”
- My comments here are virtually a repeat of the points I previously made about Hank Jongen, i.e. no details of the problem of hundreds of millions of dollars every year in ‘Commonwealth errors’ that cannot be detected and LEGITIMATELY reclaimed within the statutory 6-week period.
- In 2011, Today tonight, not Centrelink’s media unit, made public the fact that Centrelink’s debt recovery unit was trying to claw back a staggering $3,000,000,000 ($3 BILLION)
- There has been no mention of the Federal Parliament’s violations of constitutional rights, legal rights, or basic human rights, and the massive, unreported, classified death toll caused by this illegal, unconstitutional, human rights violating activity.
- There has been no mention of the fact that since 1 September 2002, all breaching triggered fatalities are Crimes against Humanity under Article 7 (1) (k) of the Rome Statute, i.e. the international convention that set up the International Criminal Court. (ICC Rome Statute)
- Just as Centrelink’s media unit withhold all of this information from the public and the mass media, e.g. A Current Affair and Today Tonight, Centrelink’s debt collection unit appears to also withhold these truth from Social Security Appeals tribunals and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Senator CAMERON: Ms Campbell, in your responses to me when I was asking about you giving the benefit of the doubt—the Prime Minister’s statement—to people who would want to harm the community, you seemed to suggest there were checks and balances in place. The foreign fighters legislation, the existing legislation, makes it very difficult for that to happen; is that correct?
Page 24 Senate Thursday, 26 February 2015
COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
Ms Campbell: The arrangements in place with the foreign fighters now provide an extra level, or balance, in that regard.
Senator CAMERON: I was somewhat comforted by that response. You are looking back at where we were and saying we have got this legislation in place, but Mr Jongen seems to be looking forward and saying there are still problems. What are those problems? Mr Jongen, can you tell me what those problems are?
Mr Jongen: Senator, I was not looking forward. You asked me what my reaction was in relation to the Prime Minister’s comment—
Senator CAMERON: Not your personal reaction; I am not interested in your personal reaction.
Mr Jongen: As I attempted to explain to you at the time, at that point in time I recognised that there were shortcomings which the Prime Minister was reflecting on in the social security legislation. Looking forward, which you are now asking me to comment on, we now have the foreign fighters legislation which addresses the reaction that I initially had to the Prime Minister’s comment.
Senator CAMERON: I will have a look at your Hansard carefully. That is not the impression you gave me.
Mr Jongen: I apologise if I have misled you.
Senator CAMERON: Mr Jongen, have you issued any communications internally about this issue so the staff understand where this is at? I am sure all the staff have not been in a position to see this engagement. What have you done to communicate these issues to the staff?
Ms Campbell: I have not issued any communication to the staff.
Senator CAMERON: Nothing?
Ms Campbell: We conducted a dialogue, which is a regular meeting we have with staff from different levels, last Friday. The matter was not raised.
Senator Payne: Senator Cameron, I know that you would like to cast this in a particular political light, but I think even you could recognise that the government finds itself in quite altered circumstances in terms of—
Senator CAMERON: There is no doubt about the government being in altered circumstances.
Senator Payne: Some of the external and, frankly, internal threats we face as a nation from extremists. The impact of those circumstances feels its way through a great deal of government, including those of us who are charged with the responsibility of making payments in a responsible fashion in accordance with the existing legislation. As both Ms Campbell and Mr Jongen have said, when the Prime Minister reflected on the circumstances we found ourselves in last year, for example, when the fighting perpetrated by IS escalated so significantly and a larger number of Australians began to be engaged, it is quite a confronting circumstance for a government to face. I do not think anywhere in the world would you find a set of existing social security legislation which equips a government to deal effectively with that in the immediate term. There are a number of provisions within the existing social security legislation—we have discussed those and adverted to those—which are commonly used for removing people from payments if they are in breach of the legislative requirements. But the developing circumstance led to the contemplation of the foreign fighters legislation, which, as Ms Campbell has very clearly said, gives us, if you like, another tool to deal with some of this extremist behaviour. I think a measured and mature reflection, such as has been made on those circumstances and the challenges with which government is faced—although you might like to characterise it otherwise—is a very important discussion that the country has.
Senator CAMERON: Thanks for that, Minister. Given the chaos and dysfunction in the government, I am concerned that these issues are not being dealt with effectively. I am concerned that DHS has not protected their reputation against another chaotic announcement by a Prime Minister under huge pressure.
Senator Payne: I am absolutely confident in the way in which the Department of Human Services has dealt with these pressures.
Senator CAMERON: I am finished on this.
MY COMMENTS ON THE ABOVE HANSARD REPORT.
Tony Abbott’s “Beyond a reasonable doubt” policy position and the identified ‘weaknesses’ in the Social Security Act mentioned by Kathryn Campbell and Hank Jongen in the above senate committee session clearly indicate that welfare payments have been paid to Islamic State fighters because the Abbott Government is applying the legal principle of “Beyond a reasonable doubt” to welfare payments.
Whilst the principle of “Beyond a reasonable doubt” may sound reasonable, it is TOTALLY INCONSISTENT with the civil tort legal benchmark used by Centrelink, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in appeals by welfare recipients in cases that involve the determination of legal liability for alleged over-payments.
“From Report #12: On the balance of probability.”
Human Rights Report #12 This report was tabled in the Federal Parliament at the end, of September 2014, i.e. less than 4 weeks before the Community Affairs Legislation Committee hearing into the problems that bedevil Centrelink’s “antiquated”, “behemoth” ISIS computer system.
Statements 2.11 and 2.12 of this Human Rights Committee report undermined a potentially very lethal piece of unconstitutional, human rights human rights legislation that the Abbott Government had attempted to railroad through the parliament with legislation that was tabled by the (former) Human Services Minister, Kevin Andrews.
Committee response. (Source: Report #12, pages 72 & 73)
2.10 The committee thanks the Minister for Social Services for his response.
2.11 However, the response does not provide any further information as to how young people are to sustain themselves during a six-month period without social security. The committee noted in its original assessment that information regarding
the likely impact of the measure on individuals and their families, and how individuals subject to the measure will retain access to adequate shelter and food, is necessary in order to assess the human rights compatibility of this measure.
2.12 Accordingly, the committee considers that the measure is incompatible with the right to social security and the right to an adequate standard of living.
HOWEVER, in the context of Tony Abbott’s “Beyond a reasonable doubt” funding of Australian national ISIS terrorists, I believe that the value of this human rights report lies in statement 1.19 of the reports STANDARD OF PRACTICE NOTES.
Right to be presumed innocent
1.19 Article 14(2) of the ICCPR provides that a person is entitled to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. This requires that the case against the person be demonstrated on the criminal standard of proof, that is, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The standard of proof applicable in civil penalty proceedings is the civil standard of proof, requiring proof on the balance of probabilities.
PROOF ON THE BALANCE OF PROBABILITY.
“Proof on the balance of probability” is the nominal measure that is supposed to be used when determining legal liability for any alleged over-payments received by welfare recipients.
Clearly, two different standards of Law are in play:
- Centrelink is using “Beyond a reasonable doubt” when funding Australian national ISIS terrorists; and,
- “the balance of probability” when suing welfare recipients.
That is more than gross hypocrisy; it is a denial of justice for impoverished welfare recipients, especially given that Centrelink and Crown Law officials appear to have no concerns about the deliberate withholding of any objective evidence that would invalidate Centrelink’s tort claim, e.g. withholding or destroying the telephone recordings that were usually recorded without the express consent of welfare recipients in the first place.
Ronald Medlicott – A Christian lay advocate for real justice in Australia.