Key Robodebt Documents Are Blocked From Being Made Public

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Documents that may have revealed what former ministers knew about the failed robodebt scheme will not be made public after a tribunal ruled against their release.

Justin Warren, an advocate for releasing the documents relating to the government’s failed robodebt scheme, believes that these 12 documents could reveal what former prime minister Scott Morrison and other senior ministers, including Christian Porter and Alan Tudge, knew about the project.

The documents contain communications between government departments, briefing papers and details of plans for dealing with any complaints or cases arising from incorrect debts being raised against citizens.

“We deserve to know everything about how this happened so we can ensure that it never ever happens again.”

“Until we know the truth, the whole truth, of how this abhorrent scheme was proposed, built and sanctioned – and by whom – we have to assume the government intends to do it again.”

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, running the case as part of the Grata FOI Project, is considering options to appeal the tribunal’s decision on not making key robodebt documents public.

Over $750 million was wrongfully recovered from 381,000 people as part of the former Coalition government’s disastrous robodebt scheme. This scheme sought to recover $1.2 billion over four years from more than 860,000 welfare recipients. Its implementation had a devastating impact on countless individuals who were wrongfully pursuing money they did not owe.

Despite the attempts by Warren to make these documents public under freedom of information laws, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Sunday ruled against their release. This ruling means that Australians cannot access further details about how and when these senior officials discussed their intentions for robodebt or if they had any strategies to mitigate its risks.

The Royal Commission into robodebt, which has been ongoing since February 2021, is now continuing public hearings in Brisbane on Monday.

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