Final hearings as Federal Government fights to keep Robodebt information secret

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

The Federal Government’s long-running effort to block access to documents underpinning its botched Robodebt scheme will be heard before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Thursday 2 December and Thursday 23 December 2021.

The case centres on early business plans and other documents produced by the Department of Human Services – now known as Services Australia – to justify the rollout of the Robodebt scheme.

These documents could reveal what Prime Minister Scott Morrison and senior ministers Christian Porter and Alan Tudge knew when they had responsibility for the program.

Justin Warren first requested access to the Robodebt documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws in 2017.

In 2019 he secured a finding from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for the documents to be released.

Services Australia appealed the OAIC’s decision, and the Tribunal first considered the appeal in June 2021.

Services Australia subsequently applied to reopen its case and introduce new evidence from public servants. That evidence will be heard in this long running legal dispute on 2 December 2021.

The parties will make their closing arguments on 23 December 2021. The Tribunal’s decision is expected in the New Year.

The case forms part of the Grata FOI Project and is being run pro bono by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ Social Justice Practice.

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