As he opens up his Gmail account, local man Josh Nixon sees a message that makes his blood run cold.

Not a lengthy email from an ex lover, or an unexpected charge to his account.

No, it’s a random inbox message from MyGov.

Josh knows that he should have reported his income a little earlier and that technically, he’s committed a crime but it felt nice to actually earn a livable wage for a couple of weeks. He figured that as long as he didn’t milk it for too long, Centrelink wouldn’t pick up on it.

It’s not like the government has integrated a highly flawed, automated system to detect overcharges that have unlawfully issued millions of dollars of miscalculated debt to people who didn’t owe money. He should be fine.

But still, as he clicks onto the MyGov website, Josh finds himself holding his breath while he jumps through the several hoops required to get onto the Centrelink site, which adds to the suspense by lagging for a good ten seconds.  With his heart beating loud in his chest, Josh is relieved to discover the inbox message is nothing other than a tax income statement and not an alarming notice about committing Centrelink fraud.

It’s likely that Centrelink will eventually work out that Josh has been a little dishonest, especially if it rolls out another botched income averaging algorithm designed to squeeze every last cent out of the poor and disadvantaged who, unlike Josh, are not trying to cheat the system.

Whether it takes six months, a year or several, Josh will lie in fear knowing that a random phone call or inbox message is inevitable.

Because Centrelink always knows.

More to come.


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