SENATOR KATY GALLAGHER
Minister for Finance
Minister for Women
Minister for the Public Service
BILL SHORTEN MP
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
AMANDA RISHWORTH MP
Minister for Social Services
MARK DREYFUS KC MP
The Albanese Government has today tabled the response to the Robodebt Royal Commission.
The Government has agreed, or agreed in principle, to all 56 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations as part of the ongoing work to restore faith, integrity and trust in government.
The Government is providing $22.1 million in new and additional funding over four years from 2023-24, and $4.8 million each year ongoing, to support implementation of the Commissioner’s recommendations. This follows the announcement of an additional $228 million in funding for Services Australia in 2023-24 to improve frontline service delivery and $1 billion in additional funding for Services Australia since October 2022.
The Albanese Government has also permanently increased the base rates of working age and student payments, expanded eligibility for Parenting Payment (single), and delivered the largest increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance in over 30 years.
The Royal Commission found that “Robodebt was a crude and cruel mechanism, neither fair nor legal, and it made many people feel like criminals. In essence, people were traumatised on the off-chance they might owe money. It was a costly failure of public administration, in both human and economic terms”.
With those words, the Royal Commission summed up the human tragedy that was the Robodebt Scheme – a Budget measure introduced by the Abbott Government, expanded by the Turnbull Government and defended, until the last minute, by the Morrison Government.
To this day, people who served as senior Cabinet ministers in the former government continue to maintain that “when the problems were brought to the attention of the government at the time, the program was stopped”. Such claims are demonstrably false and an insult to the hundreds of thousands of Australians harmed by the Robodebt Scheme.
The Albanese Government is fulfilling our commitment to put people back at the centre of the work of government and invest in better services for the Australian community.
We will continue to implement reforms to strengthen the Australian Public Service and bolster the powers of oversight agencies to ensure a failure like the Robodebt Scheme can never happen again.
The Government’s response to the Robodebt Royal Commission includes additional funding for the Commonwealth Ombudsman to boost its oversight of government agencies, and new funding to reinstate the Administrative Review Council to support better decision‑making across government.
The Attorney‑General’s Department will also receive additional funding for the Office of Legal Services Coordination and the Office of Constitutional Law to improve how legal risk is identified and how legal advice is provided to Cabinet, and new funding to develop a legal framework to support automated decision‑making in appropriate circumstances and in a manner that is consistent with the principles recommended by the Royal Commission.
Throughout the Royal Commission we saw courage, leadership, and ethics on display from victims, advocates and whistleblowers. To those who shared their stories with the Royal Commission – thank you.
Again, the Government thanks Commissioner Holmes AC SC and her team for their dedication, professionalism, and forensic work on the Royal Commission.
The findings and referrals made by the Commissioner in the confidential chapter of the Report are not addressed in the Government's Response. Investigations into these matters are being undertaken by the appropriate authorities.
The full response to the Report of the Royal Commission can be found on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.
As at 13 November 2023.