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19 August 2021

The Morrison Government continues to cover up the origins of the disastrously cruel Robodebt scheme. 

In a Senate inquiry today, witnesses slammed the Morrison’s Government’s continuous cynical coverup of the Robodebt scheme.

Representatives of community legal centres, social services organisations, and survivors of Robodebt alike were scathing of the Government’s continued secrecy around its $1.9 billion mistake. 

Given a court has called the $1.9b Robodebt standover racket a ‘shameful chapter’ you would think this Government would be keen to make amends.

Instead NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds is disgracefully refusing to make public details about Robodebt’s origins including whether they got legal advice on the scheme.

Relying on Public Interest Immunity even after the class action is over is cynical and shameful in the extreme.

What does Ms Reynolds have to fear from sunlight and transparency?

Minister Reynolds joins a conga line of incompetent and responsibility shirking ministers, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Ministers Alan Tudge, Stuart Robert and Christian Porter. 

In the face of such recalcitrance, and as the witnesses have said, only a Royal Commission will get to the truth of this sordid chapter.

The Australian Senate is now also being treated with the same contempt as Robodebt survivors who had to jump through countless hoops to find out the origin of their bogus debts. 

The Australian public have a right to know what, if any, legal advice underpinned this colossal mistake. 

After six years of coverups and misdirection, Minister Reynolds needs to tell the Australian public whether:
•           The Government received bad legal advice that underpinned a legally insufficient debt recovery scheme;
•           The Government abandoned all protocol and semblance of good government and did not ask for legal advice; or
•           The Government received appropriate legal advice and decided to ignore it. 

The Government needs to come clean, give up the PII claim, and rule out ever introducing Robodebt again.

A Royal Commission must also be held into this disaster. Anything less would be an insult to the thousands of Robodebt survivors.