Peter Whiteford writes in The Conversation (16.11.20) about the federal Coalition’s bungled automated welfare debt recovery system, suggesting that a combination of community activism, journalistic investigation, political scrutiny and the legal aid system has ultimately provided a remedy to the system’s victims.
‘The Robodebt class action bought by Gordon Legal has been settled at a cost to the government of around $1.2 billion. According to federal Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten, this is the biggest class action in Australian legal history.
‘This comprised refunds of $721 million to 373,000 people, $112 million in compensation and $398 million in cancelled debts.
‘As is well-known, “Robodebt” is the label commonly applied to the initiative starting in 2016 designed to increase recoveries by government of “overpayments” made to social security recipients, retrospectively dating back to 2010.
‘… Essentially, the Robodebt fiasco arises from the very formulation of the policy. From the beginning, a central feature of the program was unlawful.
‘The unlawfulness does not relate to a legal technicality or a mistake in drafting. In brief, the “overpayments” the government recovered using income averaging were not overpayments. No one who understood the social security system and its governing legislation could have realistically thought they were.’
The Robodebt royal commission will tell us who’s to blame, but that’s just the start
Peter Whiteford writes in The Conversation (7.7.23) about the release of the report from the ‘Robodebt’ royal commission, noting that the scheme affected hundreds of thousands of people and has ‘undercut trust in our political and social welfare systems’.
‘Today will be a moment of truth for hundreds of thousands of Australians and for what the federal court has condemned as a “shameful chapter” in Australian public administration.
‘This morning, the Governor-General will be presented with the final report of the royal commission into the automated debt-recovery system known as Robodebt.
‘Announced in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election by the then treasurer, Scott Morrison, and then social security minister Christian Porter, the scheme promised to save the budget $2 billion with smarter use of technology to “better manage our social welfare system and ensure that every dollar goes to those who need it most”.
‘Instead, the court found the Commonwealth simply asserted that some 433,000 Australian benefit recipients owed it back money – calculations it later admitted “did not have a proper legal basis”.
‘… Identifying the reforms to public administration and political practice that are needed will be the most important things to look for in the report. We have to make sure Robodebt can’t happen again.’
- The Robodebt royal commission will tell us who’s to blame, but that’s just the start
- Robodebt: five years of lies, mistakes and failures that caused a $1.8bn scandal
- ‘Amateurish, rushed and disastrous’: royal commission exposes robodebt as ethically indefensible policy targeting vulnerable people
- Why robodebt’s use of ‘income averaging’ lacked basic common sense
- Robodebt not only broke the laws of the land – it also broke laws of mathematics
- ‘The culmination of years of suffering’: what can we expect from the robodebt royal commission’s final report?
- Robodebt royal commission recommends multiple referrals for prosecution, condemning scheme as ‘crude and cruel’
- Robodebt royal commission: report recommends individuals face civil and criminal prosecutions
- Robodebt royal commission findings revealed, individuals referred for criminal prosecution
- Robodebt revenge: Inquiry finds top public servants should face criminal charges
- ‘Gross betrayal, dishonesty and collusion’; but no word which ministers face jail
- Robodebt adverse findings primed to trigger APS sackings, stripping of medals and contracting bans
- The rise of #Robodebt: how Twitter activists pushed a government scandal from hashtags to a royal commission
- Robo-debt report: Scott Morrison, ministers condemned in scheme ‘rotten from the start’
- Robodebt royal commission-How welfare bashing ended in bad law and bad government
- Robodebt royal commissioner Catherine Holmes doesn’t hold back on ministers involved
- Scott Morrison rejects robodebt royal commission findings but won’t say if he was referred for prosecution
- Robodebt royal commission exposes welfare bashing as a meanness at the heart of our politics
- All governments try to ‘manage’ stories – but with robodebt it became a stubborn refusal to admit the truth
- Victims now know they were right about robodebt all along. Let the royal commission change the way we talk about welfare
- View from The Hill: The ‘sealed’ chapter of the Robodebt report should be released
- ‘This is Australia’s Watergate’: Robodebt lawyer calls for prosecutions, class action
- As pollies await their fate, Robodebt focus turns to senior public servants
- Do the robodebt recommendations go far enough?
- Robodebt shame finally catches up with department boss and her $900k salary
- Morrison labels Robodebt findings against him unsubstantiated and absurd and accuses government ‘lynching’ campaign
- A question of ethics – and how more of it could have stopped Robodebt in its tracks