ABC News: Toby Hunt

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.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news with The National Briefing – keeping you in the loop with news as it hits:

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:

Lifeline: 131 114
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Subscribe to The Briefing, Australia’s fastest-growing news podcast on Listnr today. The Briefing serves up the latest news headlines and a deep dive into a topic affecting you. All in under 20 minutes.