Royal Commission Releases Report On Unlawful Robodebt Scheme
The Royal Commission’s report in the unlawful Robodebt scheme has referred individuals for civil and criminal prosecution along with 57 recommendations.
The 990-page report handed down on Friday “paints a picture of how the Robodebt scheme… was put together on an ill-conceived, embryonic idea,” Commissioner Catherine Holmes wrote.
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Ms Holmes has kept the identities of those referred for prosecution anonymous because it would only lead to speculation about who had been referred where, which would almost certainly be wrong”.
The report says former prime minister Scott Morrison misled cabinet by not providing all necessary information about the proposal.
It also slated former minster for government services Stuart Robert after he backed the use of income averaging despite a “strong personal view” the practice led to incorrect debts.
Ms Holmes had said in the report’s preface she had expected to uncover how the”patently unreliable methodology of income averaging could have become part of a government debt raising and recovery scheme.”
“What has been startling in the Commission’s investigation of the Robodebt scheme has been the myriad of other ways in which it failed the public interest.
“It is remarkable how little interest there seems to have been in ensuring the Scheme’s legality, how rushed its implementation was, how little thought was given to how it would affect welfare recipients and the lengths to which public servants were prepared to go to oblige ministers on a quest for savings.”
All 57 recommendations fall into the following categories:
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Automated decision making
Data-matching and exchanges
Debt recovery and debt collectors
Effects of Robodebt on individuals
Experiences of Human Services employees
Failures in the Budget process
Improving the Australian Public Service
Lawyers and legal services
The Commonwealth Ombudsman
The concept of vulnerability
The roles of advocacy groups and legal services
Some of the details in the final Robodebt report may be distressing for some readers. If you or anyone you know needs help:
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