The details of a royal commission into the controversial robodebt scheme are set to be unveiled by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The automated matching of tax and Centrelink data to raise debts against welfare recipients for money the coalition government claimed to have overpaid was ruled unlawful in 2019.
Anthony Albanese will provide an update at 10am AEST. You can watch the live stream in the video player above as soon as it’s available
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But the Morrison government has never detailed who was accountable for the scheme and which ministers knew of its problems.
Albanese, who will outline details of the inquiry at a media conference in Sydney on Thursday, believes key questions remain unanswered after a $1.8 billion settlement between robodebt victims and the government was reached in 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said such a royal commission was well needed.
“We want to learn from what’s happened in the past, that’s fundamentally … what we are seeking to do here,” he told the Nine Network on Thursday.
The royal commission is expected to be tasked with establishing who was responsible for the scheme, what advice was used in its implementation and the complaints-handling processes.
It would also look at the cost to taxpayers of the debacle and harm caused to those targeted.
The use of third-party debt collectors as part of the robodebt scheme will also be examined.
The government said before the election it would allocate $30 million for the royal commission over the forward estimates.
The coalition has previously argued $750 million in reimbursements have been made and problems have been addressed.
Labor took the plan for the inquiry to the federal election, arguing robodebt was a “human tragedy”.
The Australian Council of Social Services has previously backed the plan, calling it appropriate and proportionate.
Government Services Minister Bill Shorten previously said it would be important to know the origins of how robodebt came about.
“We still do not know how this reckless scheme was unleashed. We do not know whether poor legal advice was given or whether legal advice was simply never sought,” he said in April.
“We do not know if public servants were inappropriately heavied and politicised. And without knowing the true origins we do not know what safeguards could be put in place to prevent a repeat.”
The robodebt scheme, which ran between 2015 and 2019, saw the government raise more than $1.7 billion from more than 400,000 people.
The scheme was found to have wrongly recovered more than $750 million from 381,000 people.