By Nicholas McCallum, Canberra Times

National                        

Nicholas McCallum            
  • The Department of Human Services spent more than half-a-million dollars of taxpayer money fighting a $6000 child support case even though department bosses knew their bid was likely to fail.
  •  Officials in the Child Support Agency have spent over $500,000 since August 2011, fighting the case against the man known as “DT”, due to Family Court rules that suppress party identities, Fairfax reports.
  • The money was spent despite public servants within the department, which covers Centrelink and the Child Support Agency, allegedly breaking the law in the man’s case and the department’s defence being on shaky legal ground.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon described the case a “scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money” to protect bureaucrats within the department.

“This is bureaucracy gone mad and now they’re refusing to answer how much has been involved,” Senator Xenophon was quoted as saying.

“Taxpayers should expect a better response than this, they are hiding behind confidentiality and it seems a cowardly way to avoid accountability.

“This seems to be a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money for no good effect other than to protect the butt of the department.”

DHS has been ordered to hand over documents relating to the case to the Australian information watchdog, along with other briefs prepared for the minister, but the department refused.

Instead, the DHS has hired law firm Clayton Utz to fight the Australian Privacy Commission’s decision at greater cost to taxpayers.

Human Services, Australia’s largest government department, refused to specify how much was being spent on its legal defence but a spokesperson said it was justified spending the money to keep documents suppressed.

“Matters are generally appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal where the decision being appealed contains an error of fact or an error of law,” the spokesman said.

The department would not provide further comment on the matter nor how much money had been spent on the case since April this year.

The Australian Information Commissioner has criticised the DHS for being an organisation obsessed with process that has defers to “legalese” over plain English and has become increasingly closed off from its duty to share information. 

Source: Canberra Times Author: Nicholas McCallum, Approving editor: Martin Zavan

© ninemsn 2014

  • Paul says:

    I bet they spent a similar amount on my case. SSAT had falsified documents submitted to court and were caught out. The whole case was started again from scratch, and they did it again.
    Just think how much better Australia could be if tax payers money was spent on something productive, instead of wasting money stopping productive people working!
    SSAT and CSA have both deliberately published my information to cause me harm. They only spend money to protect themselves – not to protect information as they claim.

  • Cash cow says:

    Just another example of Government department incompetence ( even though the officers are performance paid) I had a ruling in my favour from a Social Security Tribunal matter to only realize that the Law was still protecting the Payee who was at fault!! The sad outcome is that the children still suffer and the payee is still victimized. On a positive, now that the Pension age has been increased, it will be a greater period of time before the Government will be required to deal with cleaning up the mess of the Payers hardship..
    I have considered jumping on a boat and burning my passport and reentering our shores as a refugee!!!

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