The Greens have welcomed the Robodebt Royal Commission’s report today, saying it is a step towards justice for the hundreds and thousands of people traumatised by the brutal and illegal scheme, and call on Labor to both immediately implement all 57 recommendations and immediately suspend all debt-recovery for people on income support.
Greens social services spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, said:
“This report is the culmination of years of fighting, advocacy, and bravery from the thousands of victims and their families who were indiscriminately targeted and traumatised by this callous and illegal scheme. This step towards justice is because of them.
“Catherine Holmes’s thorough and scathing review proves what victims have been saying for years, and how the harm and trauma and deaths could have been avoided if not for the inhumane actions and lack of accountability from the Prime Minister on down.
“Thousands of innocent people were made to feel like criminals when it was Robodebt that was criminal; and the Prime Minister, his cabinet, and senior department officials responsible for this scheme must be held to account for this brutality.
“While this report and the recommendations are a welcome first step and must be immediately implemented, justice is far from being done.
“Just weeks after the election, Minister Rishworth and Bill Shorten announced the Labor Government would recommence targeting Jobseekers with aggressive debt collection during a cost of living crisis.
“It’s also worth noting that Labor has questions to answer on its own current algorithm mess - Workforce Australia - and the problems and stress this automation is causing to thousands of people on income support.
“Labor is choosing to make life harder and more stressful for people on poverty-payments, all the while claiming they are championing victims of automated debt-collection. That they can’t see the hypocrisy is staggering.
“I have heard from victims of Robodebt today that are still struggling, feeling gutted, and left high and dry.
“In addition to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, the Greens are calling on Labor to immediately suspend all debt-collection, conduct a line-by-line review to ensure there are no outstanding debts from Robodebt, and repay all debt to Robodebt victims not covered by the class action.
“I want to particularly highlight Holmes’ recommendation that Labor should raise the rate of social security payments - “to help recipients achieve some semblance of the “security” element of that term; because with financial security comes the dignity to which social security recipients are entitled and to which the Scheme was so damaging.” - a policy the Greens have long-called for and that the government must immediately adopt.
“If Labor care about any of the thousands of victims of Robodebt, those who lost their lives because of it, their families, and the millions of Australians still struggling under the broken and cruel Centrelink system, then it’s time they put their money where their mouths are. Raise the rate of social security payments above the poverty line and stop debt-collection.
“The Safety Net Bill currently before Parliament is an opportunity to immediately raise the rate of Centrelink payments above the poverty line, and to implement the recommendation of the Royal Commission to reinstate the limitation of six years on debt recovery.”