The George Lyndon Story: This saga was written up by my good friend John Flanagan who is a friend of the friendless and has been helping both men and women all his life dealing with the dreaded Child Support Agency. It is story of unimaginable legal bias and corrupt practice by both the Courts the so called Child Support Agency
George Lyndon was born on 19 November 1935 in Greece. Ms Ancias Felicio was born on 22 December 1962.
There were two (2) children born of the relationship. Isabella Georgia was born on 15 August 1994 and Sofia Sky was born on 8 January 1997.
The relationship ended in early 1997. On 27 January 1997 the case was registered with the Child Support Agency following an application made by Ms Felicio.
On 9 September 1997 the CSA made a decision to depart from the then child support assessment. The decision set the new annual rate of child support payable at $21,954.40 per annum. This was to be effective from 8 January 1997 to 30 June 2000.
The decision was made as a result of Ms Felicio making a false statement that George Lyndon had enormous assets and income. The assets were not enormous and they were not his assets. The assets in question were owned by a company called Dallea Pty Ltd. The only shareholders were George’s two (2) daughters from an earlier marriage. None of the assets were owned by George Lyndon. Similarly the supposed income did not exist.
Subsequent enforcement action was taken by Ms Felicio. About July 1998, Justice Rowlands made a determination in the Family Court that Dallea Pty Ltd (and not George Lyndon) was ordered to pay almost $90,000 in child support. The CSA were not represented at the hearing and George Lyndon was self-representd.
In January 1999, George Lyndon was involved in a serious car accident.
On 3 October 2000, Ms Anciaes Felicio lodged a further application for a departure from the Child Support assessment.
On 18 December 2000, a decision was made by CSA Senior Case Officer P G Sharrock. The new child support assessment was set at $10,534.20 per annum. It was to be effective from 1 December 2000 to 31 December 2002. However this decision was wrongly based on George Lyndon being a manager and earning a high income. It was not true.
The date of the CSA letter, regarding that decision, was 10 January 2001.
Following an appeal to the Family Court by George’s daughters of the decision made by Justice Rowlands, further court orders were made by Justice Moore in the Family Court on 15 December 2006. These orders stopped the previous enforcement action against the two (2) daughters’s company. This was as a result of a Notice of Discontinuance that was filed by the Australian Government Solicitor. The AGS were acting on behalf of Child Support Registrar. However the large child support debt allegedly owed by George Lyndon remained in place
A letter of complaint was written to the CSA on 6 March 2007 by George Lyndon. This was regarding the decisions made by the CSA in 1997 and 2000.
Similarly a letter was made to the CSA on 6 March 2007 requesting that the debt be waived.
Letters of complaint were also written by George Lyndon to the Commonwealth Ombudsman on 3 May 2007 and 11 May 2007
George Lyndon wrote a further letter dated 3 May 2007 to the CSA, requesting a reply to the earlier letter dated 6 March 2007.
A reply from the CSA dated 31 May 2007 was received advising of the availability of Objection process.
A letter also dated 31 May 2007 was received from the CSA advising that the Commonwealth Department of Finance would consider a request to waive the debt.
George Lyndon wrote a further letter dated 8 June 2007 to the CSA asking the CSA to accept an application of objection out of time.
A reply dated 14 June 2007 was received from the Commonwealth Ombudsman advising that no action would be taken by the Ombudsman in relation to George’s complaint.
George Lyndon also wrote a further letter dated 15 August 2007 to the CSA seeking to lodge an objection out of time.
A reply dated 5 October 2007 was received from the CSA refusing the request for an extension of time.
Also, a letter dated 19 October 2007 was received from the CSA rejecting the applicant’s request to waiver outstanding child support amount of $87,018.37.
George Lyndon then lodged an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal on 25 October 2007. This was against the decision made on 5 October 2007 to refuse the request for an extension of time.
A child support statement dated 18 January 2008 was received from the CSA. It showed that the child support debt was then $161,844.88. This consisted of $87,018.61 in child support debt and $74,826.27 in penalties for non-payment. The statement also showed that the current child support payments were $12.76 per fortnight. These came from social security deductions.
A hearing was carried out on 18 February 2008 before the SSAT, in George Street, Sydney.
That Presiding Member was D Benk and her written decision was made on dated 3 March 2008.
Some of the more relevant points made in Ms Benk’s decision are provided below.
At paragraph 27, Ms Benk stated, “He cannot read English. He can write to a limited extent”. In actual fact, George had stated more logically at the SSAT hearing that he could read English to a certain extent. However he had added that he couldn’t write English very well. As a result, Ms Benk did not take into account George’s lack of ability to read and write English well, that would have had a significant effect on George’s ability to lodge an objection to the Notice of Decision dated 18 December 2000.
In the interim period between the hearing date and the date of the decision, Ms Benk had obtained 22 new documents from the CSA. This is without the knowledge of George Lyndon. She had then used these documents in her decision dated 3 March 2008. These documents were not provided to George Lyndon beforehand.
In her decision, Ms Benk came to the conclusion that George’s daughters’ business was “primarily a cash business (restaurants)”. Without any evidence whatsoever, Ms Benk then presupposed that George was somehow getting an undeclared income from the restaurant business.
On 21 April 2008, George Lyndon filed a Notice of Appeal in the Federal Magistrates Court. This was in relation to the SSAT’s decision. For completeness, George Lyndon also later filed an Amended Notice of Appeal on 23 May 2008.
On 10 June 2008, the matter came before Federal Magistrate Lindsay. George Lyndon’s oral application for the appointment of Mr Flanagan as a McKenzie Friend was dismissed; the appellant was ordered to comply with Rule 25A.05 of the Federal Magistrates Court Rules 2001.
However George Lyndon was ordered to file and serve any affidavit in relation to the appointment of a McKenzie Friend or in relation to any application for assistance by Mr Flanagan by 2 September 2008. The matter was listed for hearing on 16 September 2008.
On 4 August 2008, George Lyndon filed an Application in a Case seeking an order that the court provide him with a copy of the Tribunal transcript.
On 19 August 2008, the Application in a Case was dismissed by his Honour Federal Magistrate Jarrett, in the absence of the parties.
On 16 September 2008, George Lyndon sought an adjournment of the hearing because he was awaiting the result of an application for review of the decision to refuse him legal aid. The court adjourned the hearing, but noted that the matter would be heard on the adjourned date of 25 November 2008, whether or not the appellant’s legal aid review application was successful.
The court also noted that George Lyndon would need to show cause why he had not complied with orders of 10 June 2008 in relation to an application for a McKenzie Friend before any further application for a McKenzie Friend would be considered.
On 11 November 2008, Mr George Potkonyak filed an Application in a Case seeking these orders:
- That leave be granted to Mr George Potkonyak to appear as the legal representative for the appellant Mr George Lyndon at the hearing of his appeal from the decision of the SSAT of 3 March 2008 and at any other subsequent proceedings in the same matter and in this Court, if such arise.
- That the above order is made ex parte in chambers and the parties are duly notified of the decision not less than 7 days before the appeal hearing set for 25 November 2008.
On 25 November 2008, Federal Magistrate Sexton heard George Lyndon’s oral application for the appointment of Mr Potkonyak as his advocate in the appeal proceedings, and adjourned the substantive hearing of the appeal until
2 December 2008.
On 26 November 2008, the Registrar of this Court received a facsimile letter from George Lyndon advising that he would be overseas for 4 to 5 weeks and requested the date for hearing of 2 December 2008 be vacated, and a new date allocated “preferably early in the new year”. The appellant said his brother in Greece had died.
On 28 November 2008, Federal Magistrate Sexton dismissed the application for Mr Potkonyak to appear for George Lyndon as he was not fully qualified to be a practising solicitor.
On 2 December 2008, Federal Magistrate Sexton vacated the hearing date of 2 December 2008 and listed the matter for hearing on 25 March 2009. Federal Magistrate Sexton ordered George Lyndon to file and serve, by no later than 21 days prior to hearing, evidence of the death of his brother in Greece, evidence as to when the appellant became aware of the death of his brother, and certified copies of the appellant’s passport and airline tickets (or boarding passes) evidencing his travel overseas.
On 2 March 2008, the applicant filed an affidavit in accordance with the orders of 2 December 2008.
On 13 March 2009, the appellant, now represented by Mr Potkonyak, (by then a practising solicitor) filed a Notice of a Constitutional Matter under section 78B of the Judiciary Act 1903.
On 25 March 2008, Federal Magistrate Sexton heard submissions from Mr Potkonyak for George Lyndon in relation to the constitutional matters raised in the section 78B notice. Federal Magistrate then proceeded to hear the substantive appeal from the decision of the SSAT.
On 10 July 2008, Federal Magistrate Sexton dismissed the both the application regarding the constitutional matter and the appeal regarding the extension of time, made by George Lyndon.
The matter was appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court. It dismissed by Justice O’Ryan, who represented the Full Court of the Family Court, on 12 February 2010..
Justices Heydon and Kiefel dismissed a special leave to appeal application regarding the constitutional matter in the High Court on 23 April 2010. George Lyndon was represented by Mr George Potkonyak. Similarly Justices Heydon and Kiefel dismissed a special leave to appeal application regarding the extension of time in the High Court on 30 September 2010. This decision was made on the papers. This was after Mr Potkonyak had been warned off by the Australian Government Solicitor.