Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members in Services Australia welcome the Albanese Government’s announcement of a Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme.
Even before the unlawful scheme was rolled in out under then Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, CPSU members working in Centrelink told the department and government that the scheme was flawed and would cause serious problems.
These workers are experts in the system. They work on the frontline of social security service delivery every day and when they raised the alarm about how vulnerable people would be harmed, they should have been taken seriously.
For the Government and the Department to ignore their serious concerns was not just negligent, it caused untold damage to welfare recipients, and ultimately breached their trust in the social security system.
The settlement of the Federal Court class action in June 2021 showed our members’ warnings were legitimate.
There has been no genuine apology or responsibility from the previous government.
Instead, staff, who knew all along that the scheme was wrong, were left to assist understandably confused and distressed customers to navigate the refund process and explain what had happened.
The community and staff deserved better.
CPSU members now look forward to the truth coming out through the Royal Commission process.
Quotes attributable to CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly:
“Our members raised the alarm about the flaws in the Robodebt scheme from the very beginning.
“When their concerns were ignored by their Minister Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and the department, they were forced to implement the scheme knowing full well the harm it would wreak.
“Our members take their jobs seriously; they want to deliver quality support to Australians who rely on the social safety net.
"Had the Coalition Government listened to our members, who are experts in this critical work, they would have avoided enormous damage that was inflicted on everyone involved.
“Today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into the scheme finally gives voice to the community members and Centrelink staff who were treated so poorly by the previous government.
“CPSU members look forward to speaking out and working towards a better social security system for all.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Liz Bower 0408 405 121
Download CPSU's Submission to the inquiry into Centrelink's compliance program, September 2019