It has cost us, the Australian tax payers, $1.8 billion so far. Robodebt disgrace: The legacy of the Coalition government. The Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme is being handed down today. The findings are being made public post haste. Peter Dutton, the leader of the Opposition, is calling this a political decision. The debacle and disgrace of this Coalition government scheme is like an albatross to hang around the necks of all those involved in its instigation and execution. It was illegal and they all knew that it was both illegal and wrong. It cost innocent and vulnerable people their lives.
Robodebt Royal Commission Report Handed Down
Robodebt was predicated on a belief that there were lots of welfare recipients rorting the system. Many Australians believed this and still do. It is not true and the Coalition and their public servant minions discovered this via numerous reviews. Indeed, one lengthy review was carried out by, yes, you guessed it PwC. Despite this, the Coalition pushed ahead with illegally ascribing debts to welfare recipients and going after them via debt collectors.
“From 2016 to 2019, the Robodebt scheme raised more than half a million inaccurate Centrelink debts through a method of ‘income averaging’, which has since been ruled unlawful. Debts were imposed on people like Angelica which they then had to prove they didn’t owe.”
Coalition Government Designed Illegal Robodebt Scheme
The frightening thing about this is that vulnerable people, many with disabilities were, put through the ringer and informed they had large debts to the government in the thousands of dollars. The calculations were factually incorrect because income averaging does not take into account the two week periods that the system is predicated upon. Plus, they made it the responsibility of the accused to prove otherwise, which is a reversal of the presumption of innocence. If you have ever tried to get in contact with Centrelink to get information from them, you know that they are so underfunded they don’t have the staff to answer the phone. Thus, you can spend hours attempting to get through and when you do you cannot get the information you require anyway. It is like something out of a dystopian Franz Kafka novel.
RBA Sacrifices 500 000 Australians For Economic Reasons
Australia has an economy run by a central bank, the RBA, which defines ‘full employment’ as an inflation rate of 4.5%. This means that half a million Australians must be out of work for their optimal economy to be functioning. This puts the necessary downward pressure on wages to prevent inflation from creeping out of their 2-3% band. Thus, these 500, 000 unemployed Australians are a prerequisite or sacrifice for the smooth running of their ideal economy.
The Coalition knows all this and doesn’t give a rat’s arse about the suffering of those living on welfare. It makes political mileage out of the ingrained lack of charity within many Australians, who begrudge the false liberty of the unemployed. People on the dole don’t live it up on the tax payer’s expense, this is a furphy, encouraged by politicians who enjoy societal villains other than themselves. Australians far prefer getting a decent job that will pay the bills but the economic settings, as we have seen, do not support this opportunity for all of us. This is an economic fact and it is time governments start making this crystal clear to their constituents.
The Coalition designed and brought in the Robodebt scheme in complete awareness of these RBA settings and the true state of affairs around the welfare state in Australia. Many lower level public servants railed against the unfairness and probable illegality of the scheme. They were threatened with removal and/or were moved aside. Labour hire staff were brought in to fill the gaps. The relationship between the Coalition and labour hire is an important one to remember, as it has undermined the working environment and prevented wage growth in this country. Those on labour hire contracts have much less job security and are more easily manipulated than those more established public servants and workers more generally.
Stuart Robert, Alan Tudge, Scott Morrison, Marise Payne, and Kathryn Campbell these are just a few of the more prominent people named in the report, as key stake holders in the implementation and design of Robodebt. Will any of these figures be referred for criminal and/or civil prosecution?
“The architects of Robodebt will be referred for criminal and civil prosecution after a royal commission handed down its report into the unlawful scheme today.
Former Queensland chief justice Catherine Holmes’s report into the coalition government’s automated debt-raising policy has been tabled in parliament and released to the public.
The three-volume, 990-page report, includes 57 recommendations – the culmination of hundreds of hours of evidence, thousands of exhibits, and nearly a million documents.
A sealed chapter, separate to the bound report, recommends referrals of individuals for civil and criminal prosecution.”
Robodebt disgrace: The legacy of the Coalition is a betrayal of the most vulnerable Australians for political purposes. Peter Dutton is right but not for the reasons he says. The Coalition played politics with the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and needy. It cost them and us, economically to the tune of $1.8 billion, but more than that it has cost Australia the trust in our governments, especially for the half a million people who were betrayed by this illegal and just plain wrong scheme.
It is no coincidence that Stuart Robert and Alan Tudge have quit politics, the rats leaving the sinking ship.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt & Financial Freedom