Part 6: Australia’s “irrelevant” crimes against humanity:- A Hansard example of why welfare recipients should avoid using Centrelink’s phoney ‘appeal’ system.

Dial 13 32 76 and within seconds you will hear a pre-recorded voice state that:

“For your security, this call will be recorded.”

What you will have JUST heard is a deceptive lie.

If Centrelink over-pays a welfare recipient due to a mistake by a Centrelink employee or a computer error, that recording will be withheld in any appeal made through the Federal Government’s “quick and simple” appeal system. Withholding crucial information is Standard Operating Procedure for welfare system bureaucrats in the DSS and DHS, a fact made VERY clear in the following Hansard Minutes taken from a hearing by  the Senate’s Community Affairs Legislation Committee (CALC) on 26th February 2015.

It should be no surprise that Centrelink withholds information from welfare recipients when seeking to recover some of the almost $4 billion in over-payment errors made since 1997. It appears from the Hansard Minutes below that the Secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS), i.e. the Public Service ‘boss’ of Centrelink and some senior DHS staff may be concealing information from a Senate Committee of Inquiry.

A QUICK HEADS_UP: Consider these extracts from the HANSARD Minutes:

  •  Senator XENOPHON Yesterday’s report in The Canberra Times revealed that the department has spent $565,000 of taxpayers’ money litigating against a father over, effectively, a $6,000 difference of opinion. I presume the journalist is correct with respect to the $565,000 figure?
  • Ms Campbell: The $565,000 is correct in the total amount involved in this case but it is incorrect in the other amount.
  • The reason so much money has been spent on this case has been the need to test at law certain objectives.
  • Senator XENOPHON: Let us talk about the issue of model litigant. I note that when the agency fronted the Family Court two weeks ago it had a barrister, two AGS lawyers and a departmental lawyer to oppose an untrained, self-representing father asking that his matter be re-opened to lay out documents that he says—and that I say—were erroneously withheld from him and he wanted the judge to consider.
  • This is a very important issue. If it is accepted that there are important legal issues at stake here, …can you as minister, at least consider or give an undertaking that you will not be seeking costs against the father, potentially bankrupting him, for what he considers are important matters of principle? I think you agree that the seminal issues are important matters of principle.
  1. NOTE: The withholding of information from welfare recipients so that a tribunal or court cannot consider this evidence appears to be standard operating procedure for DHS/Centrelink in tort actions, i.e.when Centrelink sues a welfare recipient to recover alleged over-payments.
  2. This is a serious violation of Section 135.2 of the Commonwaelth Criminal Code Act  (1995) but in a case that I was recently involved in the AAT “Member” presiding in the trial simply ignored this criminal action and went so far as to allow UNSWORN “evidence” presented by Centrelink to be tabled and accepted as fact.
  3. However, statements made by the welfare recipient under Sworn Oath were either ignored or disbelieved. To say that this KANGAROO COURT trial was a text book case of “Manifest Ostensible Bias” is a gross understatement!
  4. $565,000 to claw back less than $6,000 and willingness to BANKRUPT someone just to win a point of law!
  5. How cold-hearted and just plain ruthless are these people?
  6. Try this for size: In the following document, a senior Centrelink official describes how fatalities caused by unconstitutional, human rights violations are successfully hidden from both the parliament and the public, i.e. they were simply ignored and the data on these deaths was “not collected”.

Neil Skill 300dpi copyIn addition to being homicides in every state and territory in Australia, these fatalities are also Crimes against Humanity under Article 7 (1) (k) of the Rome Statute of the International Court of Justice. Centrelink hides these murders and the AAT ignores them! What sort of justice is this?

HANSARD: COMMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE

Hansard

The text below starts at:

  • Page 25 Senate Thursday, 26 February 2015
  • COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

Senator XENOPHON: These are matters running to child support. The minister and the secretary are familiar with the front page report in The Canberra Times yesterday. There is a wry smile there that indicates a familiarity—

Ms Campbell: Yes, I did read that article.

Senator XENOPHON: I am going to touch on a matter which I appreciate is before the courts. As such, I will be restricting my questions in relation to this to the management of the litigation and the cost. Noting section 121 of the Family Law Act—and notwithstanding parliamentary privilege—that it is unlawful to identify the parties in a court case, I want to make it absolutely clear that I will not be doing anything that will identify the parties. I trust that the answers will reflect that as well. Yesterday’s report in The Canberra Times revealed that the department has spent $565,000 of taxpayers’ money litigating against a father over, effectively, a $6,000 difference of opinion. I presume the journalist is correct with respect to the $565,000 figure?

Ms Campbell: The $565,000 is correct in the total amount involved in this case but it is incorrect in the other amount.

Senator XENOPHON: Incorrect in which matter?

Mr Hutson: The total amount of expenditure of $565,000 is not about a single matter in front of the courts. It is about a series of matters in front of both the Family Court and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal running over the period of August 2011—

 Senator XENOPHON: But the genesis of it was still about the way the department handled this and the amount involved.

CHAIR: Senator Xenophon, if you could just allow Mr Hutson finish before you interject.

Ms Campbell: I reject the fact that the entire amount that has been spent is about a $6,000 debt.

 Senator XENOPHON: Perhaps we can go into that further. I want to talk about processes now. Is this the external Australian Government Solicitor cost, or are there internal costs as well that need to be factored in—in terms of resources of the department that have been expended on this?

Mr Hutson: That does include internal costs of the department.

Senator XENOPHON: It does include internal costs?

Mr Hutson: It does.

Senator XENOPHON: But at this stage the matter has not concluded, so I assume that if this matter is not resolved the costs will continue to escalate and there may well be costs orders involved as well.

Ms Campbell: When we say ‘the matter’, I think it is a number of matters that are leading through this case. The litigation continues.

Senator XENOPHON: Ms Campbell, we will go into that in a minute. It is the same original matter about the way the agency dealt with this particular issue, but some of them have flowed on to issues of FOI and about findings of the Information Commissioner which ruled effectively against the agency and which are still being contested by the department. I understand that this fundamentally centres about a child support change of assessment that the agency originally got wrong. Is that a fair assessment?

Ms Campbell: The matter commenced with a child support assessment. I am not sure we would characterise it as the agency getting it wrong.

Senator XENOPHON: Let us put it this way: I understand that an objections officer and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal both agreed that the original assessment was out, or wrong, by about 50 per cent. Can I clarify it? Having read the documents, the original assessment was $12,000 but was later reduced to $7,000.

Mr Hutson: I am sorry; I do not have that level of detail in front of me.

Senator XENOPHON: I do. You may want to take it on notice if you think that is wrong.

Mr Hutson: Sure.

Senator XENOPHON: Having read the papers, it seems that the SSAT confirmed that it was out by about 50 per cent.

Ms Campbell: Sometimes the SSAT has information that is not available to the original decision-maker.

[MY COMMENT: WHY? There should be full disclosure at ALL times! That is what the Kioa Decision [HCA 81] (1985) was/is all about. ]

Senator XENOPHON: I have spoken to the father, and again this morning he advised me that, other than during adjustment periods between the objection and the SSAT decisions, or changes in salary, there has never been an arrears situation. On one occasion there was a significant overpayment. He wants to make it clear: it is not a case about collection, it is not about the father not paying; it is about the processes that the department uses.

  • Page 26 Senate Thursday, 26 February 2015
  • COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

I understand that the father has provided me with court orders he is seeking, including a consent order which protects the mother from any arrears that might result from any decision in his favour, so that there is no question of the mother and the children being out-of-pocket as a result of these measures.

Ms Campbell: If we are going to protect the court proceedings in this case I am not sure whether that is relevant for us to comment on. We have watched this case very closely because there have been broader matters of law, other than just the people who are involved in this case. That is one of the reasons why the costs are so high—because we have paid the legal expenses of both proponents, as we have sought to seek clarity over the operation of the child support law.

Senator XENOPHON: It has cost well over half a million dollars, and it could well cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more before this is concluded; is that right?

Ms Campbell: They are important pieces of law to how we administer the entire child support system to determine whether some pieces of evidence are admissible in determining child support.

Senator XENOPHON: But you are aware that the father did contact the department direct to say, ‘I am prepared to participate in alternative dispute resolution to try and resolve this without recourse to costly litigation’? Can you acknowledge that?

Ms Campbell: I am aware of that, but there is also an issue about precedent, how we go forward with not just this case but other cases. The reason so much money has been spent on this case has been the need to test at law certain objectives. That is why the Commonwealth, as the model litigant, has paid the expenses of the other two parties involved—so we could test that at law.

[MY COMMENTS re “need to test the law” and “paid the expenses of the two parties involved” ]

  1. There is no consideration for the Commonwealth’s obligations under the International Convention against Torture which states in Article 1:
  • For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
  • This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.
  • Article 2 states:
  • Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
  • No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
  1. The implication of articles 1 & 2 of the ICAC is that whilst Ms Campbell may consider it to be convenient to “test the law”, this cannot be done in a manner that violates the Commonwealth of Australia’s obligation to uphold the ICAT.
  2. Australia signed the ICAT on 10th December 1985 and ratified it by treaty on August 8th 1989, i.e. ATS 21.
  3. It is covered under Australian law by the Crimes (Toture) Act 1988; this law came into effect on 26 June, 1987.
  4. Refer to the following web URL for more details:
  5. http://www.info.dfat.gov.au/Info/Treaties/treaties.nsf/AllDocIDs/619D7BC7DF6FF190CA256B4F007731BD

The 2nd major issue is Ms Campbell’s “paid the expenses of the two parties involved” statement.

  1. If that were true, why is the un-named father involved in this dispute having to ‘self-represent’?
  2. In referring to “expenses” is Ms Campbell restricting that term to court costs only for the un-named father.
  3. A truly fair and impartial test case seeking clarification of statute law is a public interest issue and the Commonwealth, to be consistent with the human rights principle of “Equality before the Law” would have the Commonwealth paying for legal representation and court costs for all parties involved.
  • Again, the No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, …may be invoked as a justification of torture” in article 2 (2) of the ICAC applies here as well.
  1. Consider this statement by senator Xenophon and the enormous stress that the un-named father would be under: “…a barrister, two AGS lawyers and a departmental lawyer to oppose an untrained, self-representing father.”
  2. Where is the Commonwealth’s “Equality before the Law” obligation being upheld in that, and are measures in place to ensure that the Commonwealth’s obligations under ICAC articles 1 and 2 are not being violated?

Senator XENOPHON: Let us talk about the issue of model litigant. I note that when the agency fronted the Family Court two weeks ago it had a barrister, two AGS lawyers and a departmental lawyer to oppose an untrained, self-representing father asking that his matter be re-opened to lay out documents that he says—and that I say—were erroneously withheld from him and he wanted the judge to consider. It concerns me that there is now an argument about not allowing documents. You are supposed to be a model litigant and you are saying you are fighting—you are spending tens of thousands of dollars with each court hearing—about not allowing documents to be reconsidered in respect of this matter, attempting to refuse that these documents be considered.

[ MY COMMENT: THIS YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF  WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE ISSUE THAT PARALLELS CENTRELINK RECORDING PHONE CALLS “FOR YOUR SECURITY” AND THEN WITHHOLDING OR DESTROYING THESE RECORDINGS IN TORT SUBSEQUENT ACTIONS.]

Ms Campbell: To do that I would need to call the legal practitioners so that we could go through that level of detail. As you can imagine, we do provide the actual operation of these legal cases to the lawyers to construct those. I do not have the information about that exact point with me.

[ MY COMMENT: OOPS! Did Ms Campbell just unintentionally confess to “Conspiracy to Obstruct and pervert the course of justice for the purpose of obtaining a financial advantage that the Commonwealth was/is not entitled to receive”? ]

Senator XENOPHON: Again, I ask that you take this on notice. A fortune is now being spent, with up to four lawyers turning up against an unrepresented father about documents that he says—and I say—were erroneously withheld from him. Can I go to the AAT?

Let us move to the FOI documents that the Information Commissioner has decided are not FOI-exempt. So the Information Commissioner has been involved in this. You have engaged Clayton Utz to represent you in the AAT and I believe you have special counsel and a partner working on the matter, along with an instructing solicitor from Human Services; is that right?

Mr Hutson: That would probably be right.

Senator XENOPHON: So you are there fighting an Information Commissioner’s ruling.

Mr Hutson: That is again a very, very important point of law. We believe that the Information Commissioner’s decision was not correct. Those documents go to legal professional privilege. In terms of the way we administer the child support legislation, the Social Security Act and all the other legislation we administer, legal professional privilege is an important part of the way we obtain legal advice and consider it. There is some information there which the Information Commissioner believes should have been released. But in our view that should not have been released, and the matter goes to legal professional privilege. That is why we have taken the matter up in front of the AAT.

Senator XENOPHON: I have just got a message from the father, who is looking at this, saying that costs were paid in the first matter only, that you are seeking costs against him in the appeal of the SSAT decision.

Ms Campbell: The first case, which was about what evidence was required and whether or not it could be used, was the matter of law that we were very focused on. I think that is where most of this started and that is where the costs are. These subsequent areas have come from the applicant. So we are, as is our normal practice, working through the legislative—

Senator XENOPHON: But you are seeking costs against him, so you will probably wipe him out. It is supposed to be a test case but you might wipe him out.

  • Thursday, 26 February 2015 Senate Page 27
  • COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

Ms Campbell: It was a test case for the first part—

Senator XENOPHON: Well you should have said that earlier.

Ms Campbell: I thought we were still talking about that, Senator. Then you went into the FOI, which I was treating separately; I am sorry.

Senator XENOPHON: Okay, but it is all inter-related, though. One flows from the other, doesn’t it?

Ms Campbell: The first case was we were trying to determine whether or not under the Child Support Act we could use a piece of evidence—

Senator XENOPHON: Hearing your answer earlier, Ms Campbell, it would seem you said, ‘It is a test case. We are paying his costs’. There are things flowing from that where he could end up losing his house as a result of massive cost orders against him because of the costs that are being knocked up by your department.

Ms Campbell: But they are subsequent actions he is taking against the Commonwealth.

Senator XENOPHON: Arising out of the same set of facts.

Ms Campbell: But they are subsequent actions that he is taking.

Senator XENOPHON: I am glad we clarified that. I have had a look at a few published AAT judgments which involved the department as respondent. It seems to me that mostly in-house lawyers are used to appear at the tribunal; sometimes the AGS. Why are you engaging Clayton Utz in this instance, given the additional cost

involved?

Mr Hutson: We have a legal panel and we use it. AGS is simply a member of our legal panel. I am not sure why particularly we used Clayton Utz—

[ MY COMMENT re I have had a look at a few published AAT judgments which involved the department as respondent. It seems to me that mostly in-house lawyers are used to appear at the tribunal; sometimes the AGS.

  • RULE #1: for any welfare recipient who gets sucked into Centrelink’s so-called appeal system – YOU WILL BE UP AGAINST A PLATOON OF LAWYERS FROM:
  • “In-house”, i.e. Department of Human Services;
  • Crown Law Office, i.e. (AGS) Australian Government Service;
  • National law firms, e.g. Clayton Utz, or Dun & Bradstreet.

RULE #2: Avoid this system and force Centrelink into the REAL COURT system which, on average, costs Centrelink $25,000 and where you can ask all of the questions that the Parliament does not want asked.:

  • Allege criminal misconduct by Centrelink officials;
  • Allege violation of rights by the Federal Parliament;
  • Is leaving impoverished people totally destitute, with no assured means of subsistence for 2 or 3 months, an action that recklessly and deliberately places lives in peril?
  • Ask questions about the secretly classified death caused by unconstitutional, human rights violating legislation, e.g. how many of the 20,914 suicides that occurred between 1st January 1997 and 31st December 2006 were welfare recipients who had had their welfare allowance unilaterally suspended without INDEPENDENT arbitration by an impartial court or tribunal.
  • Was the suspension of these welfare payments consistent with the Commonwealth’s constitutional obligation under paragraph 51, sub-paragraph 23A of the constitution.
  • Was the suspension of these welfare payments consistent with the Commonwealth’s human rights obligations under Articles 1 and 9 of the International Convention for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?
  • Was the Breaching process a deliberate, vested interest process that violated your rights under Article 14 of the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights?
  • Is deliberately making people destitute an action that violates articles 1 & 2 of the International Convention against Torture?
  • On what date were legislated welfare penalties, commonly referred to, even in parliamentary debate as “breaching”, first introduced?
  • Since then, how many people who have been breached have never receiving a welfare benefit because they were deceased?
  • Since 1st July 1997, how many times has the Secretary of the Department of Social Security, or an agent of the Secretary, engaged in tortious conduct in an attempt to recover alleged over-payments?
  • How much in total was the Secretary attempting to recover by this tortious conduct?
  • Have members of the Senate’s Community Activities Legislation Committee ever expressed concern about the high rates of over-payment?
  • Has Centrelink’s 30 year IBM 204 computer system been described by senators, government ministers, and senior public servants as “The elephant in the room”, “antiquated”, Frankenstein Monster”, “behemoth” or  “a turbo-charged Commodore 64 with spoilers”?
  • Does this antiquated computer have 30 million lines of code, much of which was written before many of the people who now program it, were even born?
  • Is much of this code undocumented?
  • Does it take a team of 30 programmers up to 3 months just to change a letterhead or boilerplate text in form letters?
  • How many such actions were terminated or delayed by the death of respondent welfare recipients?
  • How many of these breaching and tortious conduct fatalities have been included in annual reports to the Federal Parliament?
  • How many of these breaching and tortious conduct fatalities have been included in quarterly “Public Accountability” reports?
  • Why are arbitrarily recorded phone calls not made available to respondents when over-payment errors are discovered by Centrelink or DHS personnel?
  • Why are these deaths secretly classified as “confidential” by the Federal Parliament?
  • Why are these deaths also classified as “irrelevant” by both the Federal Parliament and Crown Law?
  • Are these deaths homicides, e.g. WA Crimes Act, s279 (4) or the NSW Crimes Act, s18 (1)?
  • Are these deaths crimes against humanity under Article7 (1) (k) of the Rome Statute of the International Court?
  • Under which prime minister have most fatalities occurred?
  • Will either the Secretary for the Department of Social Services or the Secretary for the Department of Human Services accept legal responsibility for these fatalities?

Senator XENOPHON: Let’s move on, because I am running out of time. I note that the legal services directions require you to get a written advice before commencing proceedings. Did that occur in this instance?

Mr Hutson: That certainly occurs.

Senator XENOPHON: You also need to get an estimate under the various professional rules as to what the likely cost of this action would be?

Mr Hutson: Yes.

Senator XENOPHON: Can you tell us what the estimate was?

Mr Hutson: No, I would have to take that one on notice.

Senator XENOPHON: Yes, but you will tell me that, won’t you? Or the likely costs—

Mr Hutson: If I am able to tell you that. I will take the question on notice and I will—

Senator XENOPHON: No, no. What I do not understand is that you have refused previously to let me know what the costs of this are, notwithstanding that Senator David Johnston, when he was in opposition, was asking similar questions and you provided information to him as to what the costs were a couple of years ago. Back then it was $25,000. It has now gone up to $565,000. I want to know why you have refused, in answers on notice, to provide me with details of cost. It does not relate to the identity of the parties. I just want to know what the costs are.

[ MYCOMMENT: $25,000 a couple of years ago for legal actions in the courts is a good ball-park figure as to the cost of Centrelink taking people to court if they refuse to use Centrelink’s own biased, ‘get-the-money-any-way-you-can” appeal system.

Mr Hutson: I will take that question on notice then.

Senator XENOPHON: It is my intention to put a standing question on notice, as this matter continues, about the costs. Your standard contract terms about refusing to answer questions of costs suggest it is not a problem to reveal monetary aspects of contracts to the Senate. I refer you to clause 15, in particular, and clauses 14.3 under ‘confidentiality’ and 14.3(d) that ‘without limiting the application of this clause, 14.3, is disclosed in order to respond to a question or a direction of a House or a request by a committee of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia or such equivalent bodies of the parliament of the relevant state’. Do you agree that in this process, if you are asked questions about how much a particular matters costs, you ought to disclose that?

Mr Hutson: As I said, I will take that question on notice.

Ms Campbell: We will abide by those directions of the Senate.

Senator XENOPHON: You have not previously.

Ms Campbell: I will go back and review that as to where that has occurred.

Senator XENOPHON: These were previous answers on notice provided.

Ms Campbell: I will review those questions.

[ MYCOMMENT: re: “I will review those questions”. The key word is “review”. Ms Campbell is not promising to answer those questions? If these people hide information from senators at Senate inquiries, is it any wonder that they also hide information from both the public and welfare recipients who are being sued by Centrelink? ]

  • Page 28 Senate Thursday, 26 February 2015
  • COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

Senator XENOPHON: Just to recap and to finalise: in summary, this man, even if there were a finding in his favour, does not want to pay any less to his wife and children. He is willing to give undertakings to the court in respect of that. He was concerned about the processes that were involved. He has been doing this as a selfrepresented litigant—a very good job, I think, in terms of the way he has been arguing his case. He has approached the department to say: ‘Can you sit down and try and resolve this through an alternative dispute resolution?’, and you are not prepared to do that.

[ MY COMMENT re: “alternative dispute resolution This is consistent with the High Court’s Kawasaki Decision, i.e. parties to a dispute can agree to settle out of court, regardless of a court’s original decision. ]

Ms Campbell: Can I take you through what we understand to be the steps of these matters?

Senator XENOPHON: Can you answer that direct question? On two occasions he has contacted the department saying, ‘Can we please sit down and resolve this without this massive litigation war involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money over a matter based on the SSAT ruling which involves about 5,000′.

Ms Campbell: I reject that it is a matter that involves $5,000.

Senator XENOPHON: I am just relying on the Child Support Agency calculator: the annual amount of child support was $12,634; the SSAT recalculated it. After that it was $7,332.

CHAIR: Senator Xenophon, it might be helpful if we allowed Ms Campbell to outline some of those steps.

Senator XENOPHON: Sure.

CHAIR: Because there are obviously differing points of view here. If Ms Campbell can put the department’s point of view about the steps that have been taken, then you can ask any further questions.

Senator XENOPHON: Of course.

Ms Campbell: The first matter was a Family Court matter that was brought in 2011 and was brought by the department in order to clarify an important legal principle which had far broader implications for all child support assessments. The department paid the legal costs for the person involved and the other parent because it was so important to set the principle. It would have been unfair of them to bear that cost. So that was finalised. The second matter was an appeal of that decision in 2012, brought by the individual that you are speaking with, about the documents. That was discontinued by the person you are talking of after three months. The third matter, which is currently before the courts, relates to the child support assessment. These proceedings have been heard but remain reserved. The fourth matter is currently in the AAT and relates to the department appealing the decision by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner about access to what we considered to be legal advice. So this is not just about a $5,000 or a $6,000 assessment. It is about a much broader range of issues.

Senator XENOPHON: Can you please at least concede that they still arise out of the same set of facts? They still arise out of an erroneous decision that could have been solved probably with a phone call earlier on and it has now taken a life of its own.

Ms Campbell: I do not think that is the case. The first matter supported the Commonwealth’s position.

Senator Payne: The Family Court upheld—

Ms Campbell: The Family Court upheld the decision. Then there was an appeal, which was the second matter. Then there is a third matter, which relates to the actual assessment. That first matter was upheld.

Senator XENOPHON: I am very grateful to the chair for the time. I want to wrap this up. One of the orders sought by the father in this is a declaration that the Child Support Registrar is prevented, by way of enactment under the act, from advancing a child support assessment objection when it has prima-facie indications that an application or submission arrived at in the part 6A assessment or objection contains false and/or misleading and/or reckless information. That is what he is fighting this about. He says to him it is an important matter of principle—

Senator Payne: And it is to us as well.

Senator XENOPHON: Why will there not be a concession, Minister, on the part of the agency that if an assessment contains false and/or misleading and/or reckless information, whether from any of the parties involved, that that ought to be a factor, that the Child Support Registrar cannot advance a matter until we sort out whether it is false or misleading or reckless? That is what he wants. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting something that we ought to be in furious agreement on.

Ms Campbell: I think it was the context in which he thought it was false, whether or not we thought it was false or not. The first case was whether or not the evidence that was used could be used. The Family Court held that it could.

  • Thursday, 26 February 2015 Senate Page 29
  • COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

Senator XENOPHON: Let us see if we have any rulings by the time of the next estimates. I want to go to the issue of indemnity costs.

CHAIR: You will have to do it quickly.

Senator XENOPHON: I will. The costs were sought against the father in the appeal. Your department threatened indemnity costs in the second case. I put this to the minister perhaps—

Senator Payne: Which is the case, it was withdrawn by the father. We do not threaten. We are not in the business of threatening.

[ MY COMMENT re: We do not threaten. We are not in the business of threatening.Senator Payne, the Minister for Human Services was at best, mistaken, with this statement. At worst, she deliberately lied to the committee.

  • What is the jingoistic slogan for Work for the Dole? “No show, no pay”. This, despite the fact that Work for the Dole is both unconstitutional and a violation of human rights!
  • Who is Senator Payne kidding

Senator XENOPHON: I have seen the chaffs. I am aware of the chain of the communications. As someone who still has a practising certificate after 30 years it looked like a threat.

Senator Payne: It is communicable. You and Mr Ruddock I think have your practising certificates after decades in the parliament.

Senator XENOPHON: I still do pro bono work. I still do my pro bono, my guilty pleas for people with gambling problems and the like. I still do that. This is a very important issue. If it is accepted that there are important legal issues at stake here, and that is uncontroverted, given that some of these other matters seem to flow from the original matter, which is the important legal principle—I think if you look at it they all flow from each other—can the department, can you as minister, at least consider or give an undertaking that you will not be seeking costs against the father, potentially BANKRUPTING him, for what he considers are important matters of principle? I think you agree that the seminal issues are important matters of principle. I think you are waiting for a note from the secretary.

Senator Payne: No, I am not, actually.

Senator XENOPHON: Sorry.

Senator Payne: Although I may be in receipt of one, I was not waiting. I am not going to answer that question here. I obviously take advice from the officers in the department. Happily for all of them I am not litigating this, notwithstanding perhaps dreams and ambitions of a former life. Let me take some advice and undertake to discuss this with you further.

Senator XENOPHON: Thank you.

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