News State ACT No benefits for binge spender who blew $500k compensation
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No benefits for binge spender who blew $500k compensation

Centrelink
Centrelink has been told to suspend its controversial "robo-debt" program. Photo: AAP
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A Canberra man who was awarded more than million dollars in compensation after injuring himself during a football half-time show spent almost all his compensation within weeks, a tribunal has heard.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled many of his purchases were “unwise, irresponsible and unnecessary”.

In 2008, Jason Cooper broke his neck while diving to catch a football using a milk crate and was no longer able to work as a tiler.

It was the event which helped spark the end of audience participation during the half-time break at Canberra Raiders home games.

Mr Cooper was placed on a Disability Support Pension but was eventually awarded damages totalling $1,025,000 and last year received just over half that amount in settlements.

But the Administrative Appeals Tribunal heard that within four months Mr Cooper had spent almost all of it.

He paid back a number of personal loans, as well as bought a house on the south coast and filled it with new furniture.

Thousands of dollars were also spent on fishing gear, home entertainment and model cars.

Under cross-examination Mr Cooper agreed many of the items he bought were not necessities.

But stated that as he was unable to work he needed a good quality stereo system and television, a pool table and games machine to help occupy his time.

The tribunal heard he now had four television sets in the house.

Although Mr Cooper had spent most of his money, Centrelink did not want to allow him immediately back onto the pension.

When Mr Cooper was awarded the million dollars, Centrelink cancelled his payments and calculated he would not need government support again until at least September 2017, known as a preclusion period.

When Mr Cooper appealed that decision, Centrelink took the matter to the tribunal, arguing Mr Cooper did not meet the special circumstances required.

The tribunal agreed, finding “he made unwise, irresponsible and unnecessary decisions in a situation where he was aware of the necessity to use the settlement money in a sensible manner and to set aside sufficient funds to meet his living costs during the preclusion period.”