Robo-debt

 

One of the hottest politics stories in 2017 (in Australia at least...) was the chaos surrounding the Centrelink debt letter fiasco.

Basically what happened was:

  • The government used a computer to determine if people had a Centrelink debt.
     
  • The computer got the equation horribly wrong.
     
  • Young and vulnerable people all over the country received letters demanding they pay back debts that were non-existent.
     
  • They made contesting the debt the most painstaking, arduous and monotonous task imaginable.
     
  • There have been reports of extreme confusion, distress, depression and even suicidal thoughts from people who have received letters.
     
  • The Minster, though, said everything was running smoothly and has refused to shut down the computer (which is sending out 20,000 debt letters a month).
     
  • People were not very happy. At all.

This issue affected young people at a really serious level:

  • Over a quarter of people who are on government income support are young people, which makes sense because young people have a harder time cracking the job market and when they do, are subject to things like casual incomes and youth wage which can limit how much they earn.
     
  • The language and nature of the letter confused a lot of young people. There was a story in The Guardian that talked about how young people might not understand the letter and pay the debt without contesting its authenticity.
     
  • Young people are less likely to have the savings necessary to pay back a large debt within 21 days.

Thankfully young people (and the internet in general) have a beautiful way of articulating their frustrations, opinions and ideas in the most engaging and simple way possible: memes.

So walk with us as we unpack and uncover some of the best memes (and videos) that were spread across the internet in the wake of the attempt the debt-onate young people.


If crude satire is your thing, this video explains breaks down the Centrelink ridiculousness in a simple but punchy way (note: this video uses swear words).

First Dog On The Moon seemed to think that this crackdown was so malicious that the painful ramifications may have been deliberate (click here for the full comic strip):

Source: The Guardian

Source: The Guardian

Australian Political Memes hyperbolated just how mean-hearted it was to ask the poorest people to fix the Government’s debt crisis:

TakeThat.PNG

Costa A tried to make sense of why the Government might target vulnerable people:

Source:  Costa A C omics

Source: Costa A Comics

Just as there are many stages of grief, there are many stages of disbelief, particularly in the swift paced online world.

When Sussan Ley (a politician) was found to used her parliamentary entitlements to claim a private, chartered plane to the Gold Coast, where she conducted private business, people smelt hypocrisy.

The question on the minds of people across the internet was simply; how can the government tell us to pull up our socks when they spend taxpayer money so lavishly on themselves?

Some blamed the morals (and moreso, the culture) of Parliament:

entitlement.PNG
who is entitled.PNG
priceless.png
hypocrasy.png

Some parliamentarians came to the defence of Ley, saying she had not broken any rules.

.. To which the internet responded:

wrongrules.PNG

Australian Political Memes gave a great conclusion to this whole hypocritical entitlement fiasco:

its our fault.PNG

Our take aways in all of this are simply:

  1. This attack on young people, and vulnerable people across Australia, was pretty uncalled for. There are other, less aggressive ways to address Centrelink debts.
  2. The public should be concerned over the way governments treat and target young people. 
 
What do you think? What could/should be done? What are your questions, concerns, ideas or opinions?