Election 2022: Robodebt royal commission if Labor wins election

By Tom Ravlic

May 3, 2022

Shadow minister for government services Bill Shorten and opposition leader Anthony Albanese. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

A royal commission will be held to determine who was responsible for the robodebt saga, if the Australian Labor Party wins government.

The royal commission would examine several key issues that include who was responsible as well as what advice the Coalition government received as it began to design and then implement the scheme.

Consultation on terms of reference would take place, with the opposition saying it has a goal to have the terms of reference in place by Christmas if it is elected.

Shadow minister for government services Bill Shorten said the robotdebt scheme, which resulted in $1.8 million worth of debt illegally raised against citizens, needed a royal commission so that it was clear why and how these purported debts were raised.

Shorten said the people affected by the robodebt scheme were vulnerable and included pensioners, disabled people, and students.

“Terrible harm was done. I have spoken to families who absolutely believe that the pressure of the unfair debt notices raised against loved family members, contributed to them taking their own life,” Shorten said.

“I’ve spoken to people in the court action, the class action which Labor helped organise, where people weren’t able to get jobs, where they had the stigma of debts.”

Shorten said there were people who had paid up soon after the government issued them a debt notice, without questioning whether the actual notice itself was legal, while other people fought the debt notices.

“The robodebt campaign over four years was the government going to war with its own people, and it didn’t have the legal authority,” Shorten said.

“Labor’s put forward our proposal for terms of reference. We will consult so we have them in place before Christmas of this year, if we are to be elected.”

Shorten also said an elected Labor government would do a user audit review of the MyGov website to explore how the online government service portal is able to be improved.

He said such a review was necessary so that the kind of surge that was experienced on the MyGov platform when emergency payments were put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic was less likely to happen.


Robodebt: Services Australia continued to recover debts despite risk that they were ‘legally insufficient’

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