The MSD nightmare of Kathryn’s death – rest in peace dear woman


Kathryn‘ (not her real name) died last week.

Who was Kathryn?

She was a beneficiary who battled the cruelty of the neoliberal welfare state. Read in horror at what those maggots did to her…

In August 2015 I sat through a whole day of hearing in the High Court on this sad case. What a convoluted sets of arguments were expounded to justify the punitive approach taken by the Crown.  That was the latest court event in a 15 year saga in which an unwell beneficiary is being pursued for the repayment of $20 a week.

Her debt arose from an accusation by an ex-partner that she had been receiving the Domestic Purposes Benefit over five years in the 1990s, alleging she was with him. She has always denied she was in a relationship in the nature of marriage in that period.

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Unlike so many others who are told to plead guilty and show remorse to secure a lighter sentence, she refused to take that path and spent 6 months in prison even though she had a five year-old at the time. Her family have suffered enormously and unjustly.

A prison sentence was not enough for the MSD who have insisted she still owes them $117,000.

…MSD claimed ‘Kathryn’ owed them $117000 in penalties and overpayments from a supposed relationship she had with a violent partner which she always denied having…

The costs to government let alone society to date have been huge. Some of the monetary costs are the Crown Law outlay of $85,000 for the last 15 years of Civil proceedings for debt recovery, the $11,000 for the costs of criminal prosecution before that, and an estimated $50,000 for the incarceration.

…when asked by the Judge why the MSD was chasing a beneficiary like Kathryn for $117 000 that she could never ever pay back, the scum maggot from Crown Law said, ‘in case she wins lotto’!!!!!!!

…MSD was chasing a terminally ill beneficiary for a ridiculous $117000 debt that should never have occurred in the first place because she wasn’t in a relationship with the abusive partner BECAUSE she might win Lotto???

Who are these pieces of filth?

Kathryn has died, and I would suspect these maggots will turn whatever tiny fraction of estate she has over to claw back whatever they can.

Kathryn deserved to be looked after by the welfare state, not persecuted and enslaved in a life of debt that only a lotto win might save her from.

Who have we become as a people when such injustice towards the most vulnerable becomes the standard?


  1. MSD what a bunch of a -holes change needs to happen this is how our government agencies react did this happen under pull the benefits watch cause she is like this nasty and vindictive

    • I have read Kathryn’s tragic story previously, and it shames us all. I was unaware that Kathryn was the woman about whom a WINZ lawyer said that she could win Lotto and WINZ thereby claw back her alleged debt.

      The lawyer may be too disconnected from reality to be practising law, but that may be what WINZ wants. Vindictive is the right word here Michelle, and we are forced into accepting some people are vindictive, but if the whole dept is like that, then it is no longer fit for its purpose.

      Kathryn has the peace which eluded her in life, but tragically her family no longer have her. It is past time for the Minister to forensically audit her dept’s performance and to accept that she too will be judged by people like me, and that sweet-sounding aphorisms are best plonked on the side of a fridge and of zero help to vulnerable persons with stuffed-up lives. Shame on her too.

  2. Beneficiary bashers would soon change their tune if they ever have to seek the “assistance” of WINZ/MSD. The Govt Dept. that actually rewards staff members for NOT providing the assistance vulnerable citizens seek!

    Stonewalling, humiliation, sadism, neo liberal moral judgement, a communication maze, “lost” document copies, branch policy applied rather the Act, entitlements not explained, etc. etc. a cruel punishment enclave rather than anything resembling the original intent of Social Security.

    • That may yet happen the the way our financial markets are headed. Expect a nasty recession soon and watch some of these beneficiary bashers in their nice offices lose their shirts. They will be forced to experience what they created. Good on em…

  3. The brutal callousness of the Crown lawyer reflects not only the culture of MSD but also the culture of Crown Law. Detached individuals who argue the law without looking at the bigger picture because they don’t want to. What a sadistic comment the Crown lawyer made and the court that asked the question which prompted the lawyer’s response should have pulled him/her up on it.

    We seem to have reached the point in this country where the very system that should have been protecting Kathryn, especially from the abusive partner who turned on her, instead hounded her relentlessly with vindictive glee and a sneering contempt.

    The irony of the name Ministry of Social Development should not be lost on us. Where was the social development in the form of protection for Kathryn in this case and no doubt hundreds like it. More like – the Ministry of Social Destruction.

  4. I was at the court hearing in 2015 and sitting there, I nearly felt like jumping up angrily and confronting The Crown/MSD lawyers. They were indeed sadistic. I’m getting very tired of Carmel Sepuloni’s platitudes and ‘we can’t do it all now’, ‘we’re working on a 3-5 year plan. People standing in queues for food grants can’t wait 5 years FFS

  5. If we as decent people don’t want neo liberalism well then we need to stop voting for more of it. For me and hopefully others that means we need to open our eyes to parties that actively embrace it, whoever they might be and not make excuses for their actions. Instead demand better or in its absence look for better alternatives.

    I’ll add this is a very sad story but by no means the only one I’ve heard. Part of the reason I’m no longer willing to keep down the path this country has taken over the last 30+ years.

  6. I believe the current Govt has given instruction for beneficiaries to be advised fully of their entitlements and treated with respect but there is no doubt that there are staff that are still working on the old regime’s strict and draconian rules. These people need to be retrained and if they will not change be moved on. As for the likes of that idiot lawyer ….karma is a fine thing.

  7. I believe you are right Deane but as you mentioned some may need to be moved on and retrained or reprogrammed after 9 years of being nasty its probably not that easy to change

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