“Shameful” Robodebt scheme should never have happened

The union representing Centrelink and Services Australia workers, the CPSU, echoes Justice Bernard Murphy’s description of the Robodebt debacle as a “shameful chapter in the administration of the Commonwealth social security system.”

Today, in settling the class action in the Federal Court, Justice Murphy identified the scheme as “a massive failure of public administration”.

Even before the scheme was rolled out, CPSU members working in Centrelink were telling the department that the scheme was flawed and would cause serious problems.

CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly said, “Had the department and the Ministers responsible respected the expertise and experience of their own workers and listened to what they were saying, this ‘shameful chapter’ would never have occurred.”

“More than 500,000 Australians caught up the scheme should never have been issued these dodgy debts. The fact that their distress and anxiety was entirely avoidable is outrageous,” said Ms Donnelly.

“The Morrison Government owes all these Australians, and its workforce an apology.”

“The Government’s failure in this case is in no small part attributable to its unwillingness to listen to its own workers.”

“Our members are experts; they are on the frontline of this work every day. Had they been listened to at the outset, hundreds of thousands of Australians would have been spared untold financial and emotional stress.”

“With the government continuing to initiate new schemes targeting welfare recipients, like the recently launched employer dob-in line, it is vital that it learns lessons from Robodebt and takes welfare policy seriously.”

“Rather than demonising job seekers and other welfare recipients, this Government should work with the experts to ensure government policies actually support them.”

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