Once again, the issue of Centrelink’s “robo-debt” recovery system is in the news, after a string of failures that have seen over 20,000 Centrelink recipients receive debt recovery notices, despite owing a lot less, and often nothing at all.

Independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie said on Wednesday: “The fact is that the robo-debt system should have been shut down a long time ago.

“But instead the government has continued to let it loose on everyday Australians, saddling them with nonsensical and often incorrect debts, sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

This is very troubling, and could be scary to thousands of ordinary Australians, so to assuage your fears, we have compiled the following guide to tell if you are dealing with a “robo-debt” recovery robot.

The debt is often comprised of zeros and ones

It’s not secret that robots love zeroes and ones. In fact, they use these two numbers to compute most of their operations. So if you find a letter in your mailbox claiming you owe $10001010 or $101101 – chances are this is merely an error. Dispose of this correspondence thoughtfully.

The Centrelink staff member keeps refusing your offer of water

Humans love water; it’s one of the main component of our bodies, and therefore we need a steady stream to top us up and keep hydrated for all those long Centrelink queues.

Robots, on the other hand fear water, as it plays havoc with their circuitry. It is nonsensical for a human to refuse a glass of water, especially in the barren wastelands of Marrickville Centrelink. Robots, on the other hand, do not need such replenishment.

All correspondence refers to you as ‘Human’ or ‘Puny Human’.

Again, humans have been trained to refer to each other as one of 160 different names, mostly pulled from the names of rare stones, the Bible, or cities in America. Robots have no such discerning factor; no need for a system this complex and personal. Beware any letters than do not use your name.

Your emotional pleas are ignored

If you are dealing with a robo-debt recovery robot, any pleas for the operator to “see sense” or “give me a break, how am I meant to pay this amount back with Dakota’s christening this month” will be meant with stony silence, and often a monosyllable repetition of the previous sentence.

Robots do not respond to such emotion. Try logical fallacies or non-starters in order to short circuit their wiring.

Good luck! And remember, money isn’t real.


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