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Australian Government Agrees To Pay Out Largest Class Action In The Country's History

Australian Government Agrees To Pay Out Largest Class Action In The Country's History

The Australian government has agreed to pay out the largest class action in the country's history.

It will cost $1.2 billion to repay and compensate all the people affected by the Robodebt recovery program, which raised automated debts against welfare recipients.

There was meant to be a trial in the Federal Court to begin today (November 16), however lawyers revealed an in principle settlement had been reached.

While it's a big result, the class action settlement will need to be approved by a judge.

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Gordon Legal Partner Andrew Grech said in a statement: "We want to acknowledge the courage of the lead applicants; Katherine, Elyane, Steven, Felicity, Shannon and Devon, who led these proceedings on behalf of all Robodebt victims in pursuit of this class action, which has allowed this outcome to be achieved today."

The program was slammed because it asked welfare recipients to pay back debts and was organised by a computer algorithms that had no human oversight.

Many felt they were wrongly targeted, but because there wasn't a person involved in the selection process, the system to dispute the payment was incredibly difficult and caused many to stress about how they will pay the money.

The $1.2 billion the government will have to repay includes a $721 million payment that was announced in May. The Federal government said that money would be given back to 370,000 people who were wrongly pursued by the Robodebt program.

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The additional settlement that was revealed today is $112 million in compensation for those affected, as well as repaying $398 million in debts that were wrongly requested.

Shadow minister for government services Bill Shorten said in a statement that this is a massive step forward to helping those who underwent terrible stress during the program's reign.

"Today it means that 400,000 victims of the Government's illegal protection racket...these people have got some justice," he said. "This is a good day for them, but I think the rest of Australia, and the people who were damaged by this process can say: 'who was responsible?'"

"I wish they had done their homework. It shouldn't have taken until the day of the court hearing for the Commonwealth to come good."

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously apologised for the hurt that this program caused.

"Of course, I would deeply regret - deeply regret - any hardship that has been caused to people in the conduct of that activity," he said.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Australia

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Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.