14 November 2023

MARION SCRYMGOUR, MEMBER FOR LINGIARI: My question is to the Minister for Government Services. In light of yesterday's release of the government's response into the Royal Commission into Robodebt, what is the Albanese government already doing to ensure a cruel, illegal scheme like Robodebt can never happen again? How does this differ from other approaches?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: I thank the Member for her question. The Royal Commission’s verdict into the Coalition Robodebt scandal, it's in.

Words used such as crude and cruel. Illegal and unfair. Guilty until proven innocent. Now, the Royal Commission made 56 recommendations about the Coalition Robodebt scandal. 49 we've agreed on fully, 7 we've agreed in principle. But two words summarise Labor's approach to the Robodebt coalition scandal. Never again. Never again should this be allowed to happen.

Yesterday I said how the Albanese government is putting an extra 3000 frontline support staff to help tackle waiting issues at Centrelink and Service Australia. Today I can update you that we're also learning another lesson from Robodebt, that we've established an advisory board to Services Australia for the myGov and Services Australia rollout. This advisory board will be the place where ideas are tested before they head out into the world. Ethicists, human rights experts, advocates, digital thinkers, but, chaired by a very constructive, positive Liberal. I'll say that again a constructive, positive Liberal, Victor Dominello. So, I thank Victor for stepping up to deliver better government services with this government. But the advisory board shows that Labor understands, we get the lessons of Robodebt. One catastrophic failure of Robodebt is that the previous Coalition government couldn't be bothered to listen to anyone outside the bubble of self-serving, managing upwards, senior public servants, of highly paid PwC consultants, or indeed just by putting in disinterested, forgetful, negligent Ministers.

The Coalition never liked to hear from those who they couldn't control or bully. But I've been asked about alternative approaches. I regret to say that the Member for Dickson shows no insight or learning the lessons of Robodebt. Yesterday afternoon, after Question Time, he channelled his best sense of Stuart Robert outrage. Actually, I take that back. That's too harsh, but more the Member for Cook outrage that he was the victim. The Member for Dickson says he was the victim of the political attacks on Robodebt. But he went further. He said I had overlooked a press conference on the 8th of July, where he said, when the problems were brought to the attention of the government at the time, the program was stopped. He said on July the 8th, when the Coalition learned there were problems, they stopped it. But today's editorial of The Australian, no less, says that the Coalition government was informed at the end of 2016 of the problems, they were saturated in coverage. But this forgetful, evasive leader of the opposition, with nothing positive to say, he won't even say - he wants credit for closing it, when in fact he was there every time they expanded the scheme.