Former federal minister Alan Tudge and former MP Christian Porter are set to appear before the Robodebt Royal Commission which resumes next week.
The next block of hearings opening on Monday will focus on the responses of ministers and the government’s continued defence of the failed debt recovery scheme as it faced increasing criticism both internally and externally.
Mr Tudge, the former Minister for Human Services, is listed to appear on February 1, followed by Mr Porter, the former Minister for Social Services, on February 2.
Services Australia deputy CEO Christopher Birrer is listed for January 23, 24 and February 3.
The block will continue to focus on the fairness, legality and policy considerations of the scheme.
Upcoming hearings will consider:
- Growing criticism of the scheme within government agencies
- Responses from the Department of Human Services and relevant ministers
- Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions
- The use of media by ministers and government departments
- Continuing challenges to the legality of the scheme
- Measures taken where alleged debts were not paid
Robodebt used automation to crossmatch data from Services Australia and the ATO, and calculate overpayments to welfare benefit recipients.
The scheme unlawfully claimed almost $2 billion from 453 people between 2015, when it was first piloted, and November 2019, when the scheme was dumped just before the launch of a federal court class action.
In a $112 million settlement with victims approved in 2021, Justice Bernard Murphy of the Federal Court described Robodebt as “a shameful chapter in the administration of 10 the Commonwealth’s social security system and a massive failure of public administration”.
The Royal commission, established in August 2022 and headed by Commissioner Former Queensland Chief Justice Catherine Holmes SC, has so far received 575 submissions.
The latest round of hearings will run from January 23 until February 3 in Brisbane.
It is required to hand down its final report by April 2023.
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