Stuart Robert’s robust defence of Robodebt, has gone missing in the Royal Commission. He was the responsible minister, and told the enquiry that they made him do it. Apparently, he had to robustly defend an illegal scheme because, as a cabinet minister in the government he had to toe the government line. Lying was his duty in this instance, even though, personally he had great reservations about the legality of the scheme. Pull the other one Stu! Oh how I love to see these fine Australians standing up and taking responsibility for their actions, which caused untold damage to people’s lives and cost the nation billions in the end.
The Robert Robodebt Royal Commission Excuse
The squirming public servants, challenged on their legal and ethical responsibilities to the Australian people, are like the things you see when a large rock has been taken up from the earth. No longer in the shadows pushing buttons that can make or break ordinary Australians, these bureaucrats are on the stand in the harsh light of an enquiry into their culpability. The Coalition established a culture of pushing a narrative upon the social services and human resources departments. This narrative told a story about dole bludgers and welfare cheats rorting the system. This plays well with conservative voters, giving them a villain within the community to focus their angst and frustrations upon. You can do horrible things to people when you classify them as the other. We have seen this in fascist states and autocratic regimes around the world. Now, it was Australia’s turn.
Robodebt’s Rock Spiders & Bureaucrats
Funnily enough under the microscope of the Royal Commission, the normally gung ho Stuart Robert, was not quite so robust in his defence of the Robodebt scheme and his place in it. I am reminded of the Adolf Eichmann trial in Israel, where he claimed he was merely a bureaucrat just doing his job in enabling the final solution in Nazi Germany. Lying and defending a known illegal scheme was just his job, Ma’am. Yes, putting the onus on those accused of owing thousands of dollars to Centrelink to prove otherwise was a good idea, according to Stuart Robert. These men, these conservative political leaders, enjoyed their time in power. There was a smugness emanating from all of them during their stay in office. Stuart Robert’s robust defence of Robodebt fit well with the arrogant attitude of this government.
Scott Morrison purports to be a Christian but had little empathy for the vulnerable among the unemployed, if his behaviour during his time as Minister for Social Security is anything to go by. Perhaps, his version of Christianity is different to the one I was brought up in. Robodebt cost lives and attacked the poorest of Australians. It was known to be illegal by the lawyers working for the government and the public servants administering it. It is funny how these people in power always go after the low hanging fruit, the easiest targets who cannot afford to fight back. Kick a man and a woman when they are down, must be a mantra close to their hearts or what passes for hearts among them.
Of course, none of these people will be prosecuted for the harm that they did to hundreds of thousands of lives. Like the Royal Commission into Banking and Financial Services, there will a lot of short term oohing and aahing but nothing will really change. White collar criminals in Australia walk on clouds of immunity. The disgusting behaviour of this LNP federal government reached a new low ebb courtesy of their automated debt collecting program called Robodebt. Income averaging was incorrectly and illegally applied to data accessed from the ATO. The ministers Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, Alan Tudge, and Stuart Robert went after the poorest members of our society with religious zeal. Revenue raising to repair the budget bottom line was much more important that people’s lives. Plus, getting an algorithm to do it saved time and more money in the process – who cares if it was fundamentally illegal, according to the department’s own legal advice.
The Liberals have made an indelible engraving on the soul’s of Australians with their narrative about dole bludgers and welfare recipients cheating the system. In reality, it is fat cats ripping off the tax system which really costs this nation. They, however, have lawyers so you can’t go after them. Plus, they are the Liberal party’s donors and members. The right wing narrative points the finger at the dangers of socialism, the unions for instance. The demise of the union movement’s power has seen record wage stagnation in Australia for 20 years. The Coalition has been successful in this scare campaign and we the workers in Australia have paid the price for our gullibility. The recent attempt to drum up support for those with more than $3 million in their super accounts, as if these folks are poor victims because they are losing half of their tax breaks on their excessive wealth in retirement. This has been a taxation loophole for the wealthy, with some pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into this bolthole. Ordinary Australians are subsidising these overly generous tax breaks for the very wealthy. Will the greed factor among us tip some folks into the waiting arms of Peter Dutton? Opposition scare campaigns are built on lies and exaggerations.