Late yesterday went to the local supermarket, bought a few groceries, and then went to the self-checkout to pay. I presented my card the first time and it said no good. Thinking it was one of those bank anomalies I tried again, to the same result. By now I was very puzzled. God knows I’m not awash with funds, but I should have had several thousand dollars in my account put aside for when I find somewhere to live.
I paid by cash and left. Out in the street I opened the bank app on my phone to check my account. Sure enough, I was overdrawn. Somewhat shockingly a withdrawal of $3,500 was listed there, with the vague reference ‘Details advised separately’. It was an ominous, disconcerting report.
I drove back feeling close to desperate. If this money is gone then I’m fucked. I spent most of yesterday looking for somewhere to live, all of which becomes academic if I can’t afford to move in – I need a month’s rent, bond, plus dollars for the removalist. I really don’t know what comes next if I don’t get the money back, but it isn’t pretty.
Back at the house I rang the bank straight away. They weren’t able to tell me much more as the details hadn’t filtered through to them as yet. They did suggest that it could be a court ordered debit – more ominous music – which they would have no other option but to comply with. They suggested I ring Monday morning for more detail.
Now I know of no court order, and have received no correspondence about this. It’s totally out of the blue. The only party I know of who could compel this, and have reason to, is the ATO – but even that doesn’t make sense.
I received advice a few weeks ago that my application to the Department of Finance to have my debt waived was knocked back, as I expected. A couple of weeks ago I received a statement from the ATO requesting that I pay the full debt of $37K odd by this coming Monday – tomorrow. Good luck with that, but would it suggests is that they would do nothing until that date has passed. If they’re garnishing my account already then they’ve jumped the gun.
It’s a mystery, but not one of the type you’d happily curl up with on a Saturday afternoon. You know it’s bad when even my sister asks why these things always happen to me. I must have been a bad boy in my previous life.
As you can probably tell I’ve processed this a bit since last night, but this is a critical, and potentially life-changing moment. If that money is gone, then so too are my immediate – and possibly permanent – hopes of returning to a normal life.
It seems terribly unfair, and if it’s proved that this money has been taken from me on court order, then terribly unjust also. For a start you would think someone would tell me of it. In the second place it seems awfully wrong that they can reach into your account and take money from you without your say-so. Ultimately though there’s something wrong when someone like me, homeless and struggling to get back on my own two feet, can be knocked back on my arse in favour of some corporation or government. It’s shocking to think that the Australian government will favour its own bodies over the rights of one of their citizens in dire circumstances. Shocking, but not terribly surprising in these abject times – I am, after all, a leaner in the vernacular of the government.
The irony, and tragedy of it, is that I’m leaner striving to become a lifter – and it’s the government who may prevent it.