The Federal Government is facing growing calls for a royal commission into the failed Robodebt scheme, with Labor demanding an inquiry into how hundreds of thousands of Australians were issued unlawful government debts, ABC News reports.
In many cases, automated debt notices were sent to vulnerable people who did not owe the Government a cent, with allegations it caused financial hardship and distress for thousands.
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologised to recipients of the letters, after the Government for years defended the program.
“The business of raising and recovering debts on behalf of taxpayers is a difficult job,” he said.
“Of course, I would deeply regret any hardship that has been caused to people in the conduct of that activity.”
But the Opposition has ramped up calls for wide-ranging scrutiny of the scheme, calling for a royal commission to be established into the matter.
Labor argues that is the only way to get to the bottom of how the scheme, which was branded “unlawful” by the Federal Court, was implemented.
It also says a royal commission should examine whether Robodebt notices contributed to some people taking their own lives, as has been suggested by the families of some recipients.
From the start of next month, the Government will begin repaying money to people who complied with the unlawful debt notices, having waived all debts associated with the scheme.
The Government expects the process of waiving and repaying 470,000 debts belonging to more than 370,000 individuals to take several months and cost $721 million.
The Greens have been calling for a royal commission into the scheme.
The ‘problem’ is not ‘fixed’. Why we need a royal commission into robodebt (The Conversation)