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A Robodebt response from a leader full of loathing

So incensed was I with the Leader of the Opposition’s response to the Royal Commissions report into the Robodebt Scheme that for a brief moment, I actually felt sorry for him.

However, in an equally brief deliberation, I realised that it was us, the people, that my sorrow was better directed. We deserved more than what Peter Dutton gave us. The Leader of the Opposition’s standing is fundamental to our democracy because he leads the alternative Government and therefore represents its philosophy and policies.

But alas, when responding to matters of importance, he attacks with all the ferocity of an angry Abbott or a lying Morrison. Let me explain his reaction to the Commission’s report in four instances.

1 “When the problems were brought to the government’s attention at the time, the program was stopped,” Mr Dutton told reporters.

FACT: The Commissioner identified the many times the scheme was found to be illegal and was never stopped. So that was a lie.

2 “I think the people of Fadden are much smarter than that – they’ve seen the personal smears against (Liberal candidate) Cameron Caldwell, they’ve seen the political advantage in the timing of the release of this report…

They’re not stupid. They can see that.”

FACT: The Government instigated the Commission, and its delivery date was decided before a bye-election became necessary. The Electoral Commission, not the Government, decided on that date, so any collusion was impossible. A lie.

3 “I caution the glee of the Prime Minister and Bill Shorten at the moment. They’ve sought to politicise this issue from day one.”

Glee means merriment, gaiety, joy, delight or cheer. Albanese and Shorten couldn’t be accused of being gleeful in all the media coverage I read or saw. Another one of your lies.

4 Dutton also accused the PM of trying to “unseal” the secret chapter of the report for political gain.

“Albanese has said he is seeking advice about whether the confidential, sealed chapter from the Commission’s report, which details these referrals, can eventually be released after further actions against named individuals and legal appeals are exhausted.”

Oops. Another lie.

Albanese can’t name anyone. He only went as far as the report would allow. Bill Shorten has also sought legal advice on revealing the names. There is no conspiracy to open any envelope.

The dilemma here is that, on the one hand, the public, after spending millions on a Royal Commission, deserves to know who was responsible for the gross mishandling of a scheme that oversaw many deaths.

On the other hand, those accused deserve the right to be innocent until proven guilty.

One cannot dispute (although Dutton doubtlessly will) that this Royal Commission was conducted with the highest ethics and integrity by Catherine Holmes, but at this point, it needs completeness. There has to be just transparency.

Heads of departments in the public service are empowered to take immediate action against public servants who are found to have acted unlawfully or incompetently, meaning that Kathryn Campbell and Renée Leon will lose their positions. So, might others. The Commissioner found adverse findings against 7 public servants.

Just who the politicians are is still unknown. Suppose there is no accountability or consequences, and the culprits remain unknown for what has transpired. If they remain unaccountable and unknown, the Commission will have achieved little other than telling our politicians they are free to continue their deception and corruption.

Of course, we have yet to determine how many names are in the sealed section of the report, but I imagine names like: Scott Morrison. Kathryn Campbell. Alan Tudge. Stuart Robert. Christian Porter. Annette Musolino. Serena Wilson. Jonathan Hutson. Mark Withnell. Paul McBride. Emma Kate McGuirk. Karen Harfield. Jason McNamara and Craig Storen would be shaking in their shoes right now.

There may be others, of course. All that can be said of these individuals other than the damming commentary in the report itself is that they are of a category of humanity that most of us are unfamiliar with.

Of the former Prime Minister, the Commission found that:

“It was Morrison’s pathological incuriosity that allowed cabinet to be deceived.

“Mr Morrison allowed Cabinet to be misled because he did not make that obvious inquiry,” Holmes’s report says. “He took the proposal to Cabinet without necessary information.”

Of Minister Alan Tudge:

“Tudge, Holmes found, was motivated by a desire to “save face” both personally and on behalf of the Government. He wanted to “minimise public embarrassment” after he had publicly trumpeted the new era of debt compliance when he became minister the year before.”

“As a minister, Mr Tudge was invested with a significant amount of public power,” the report says.

“Mr Tudge’s use of information about social security recipients in the media to distract from and discourage commentary about the scheme’s problems represented an abuse of that power.”

Of Minister Christian Porter:

“Mr Porter could not rationally have been satisfied of the legality of the Scheme on the basis of his general knowledge of the [new policy proposal] process, when he did not have actual knowledge of the content of the NPP, and had no idea whether it had said anything about the practice of income averaging,”

Minister Stuart Robert:

When Stuart Robert was appointed minister for Government Services, he was briefed on a Federal Court of Australia case concerning a Robodebt victim in which the Australian Government Solicitor had provided draft legal advice warning the scheme was almost certainly not lawful.

However, Robert:

“… denies being briefed on this advice in June 2019, but the Royal Commission does not believe him. This poses a significant problem for the former minister because it was another five months before the opinion of the solicitor-general was sought. This was the definitive, scheme-killing legal advice.”

Why was there such a long wait? Officials argue it was simply a long process:

“In the Commission’s view, none of this justifies the five-month delay in preparing and delivering the brief.”

Further, Commissioner Catherine Holmes said also that:

“… elements “appear to exist” of the little-known tort of misfeasance in public office, in detailed findings that targeted various former Coalition ministers over a scheme she described as wracked by collusion and dishonesty.”

The term misfeasance means that the victims could sue the Ministers directly.

There needs to be a form of obligation on the agencies receiving the referrals for potential civil action or criminal prosecution, the Australian federal police and the National Anti-Corruption Commission to take further action. As it stands, they need do nothing if they so desire. Therefore, I come down on the side of revealing the names of those ministers referred. They would still have the right to defend themselves.

I agree with Anthony Whealy, a former NSW Supreme Court judge and chair of The Centre for Public Integrity, who said:

“It’s better, I think, in the public interest that those people be named, and we know who they’re being referred to because I think that’s what the public is entitled to know.”

“Certainly, it’s a job unfinished … because the commission has the power to make referrals to various disciplinary or criminal agencies, and until we know exactly what it’s done in that regard, we don’t see the finished product, and therefore, I think, you know, there’s a certain air of dissatisfaction with that aspect of the outcome.”

Dutton’s response showed not the slightest concern for the victims of this corrupt and wicked scheme. He apologised to them, but it was an empty graceless apology that lacked empathy and emotion. 500 thousand Australians were affected, and 2000 committed suicide. By saying the things, he did, he put on display all the reasons why he would never make an Australian Prime Minister.

He is from the Abbott/Morrison mould that tried so hard to wreck our democracy.


Let me remind you of our immediate political past under conservative rule

Never in Australian politics did the Australian public so unintelligently elect a series of right-wing governments over a decade that were rotten, to the core, infected with hatred for the less well-off but happy with the burden they carried. So ignorant of its own incompetence. So willing to break laws and trash convention. So utterly corrupted with lying that they sometimes knew not when or why they were telling them.

So brutal toward those seeking a better life on the waves of empathy. So unsympathetic to those domestically in need of help. So full of ministers who didn’t care about the corruption that engulfed them. So unendowed with leadership were they that every decision passed through cabinet uncaringly and unquestioned.

That so many remnants of that era still exist in the ranks of conservatives must surely remind our citizens of how badly they governed. A sobering thought when the current Leader sees nothing wrong with their ideology.

My thought for the day

The previous Government’s performance in office was like a daily shower of offensiveness raining down on society.

PS: Commissioner Catherine Holmes said:

“It may be that the evidence in this royal Commission has gone some way to changing public perceptions. But largely, those attitudes are set by politicians, who need to abandon for good (in every sense) the narrative of taxpayer versus welfare recipient.”


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  1. Uncletimrob

    Not having personally read the report, I had not seen your list of ratbags before – shame on the lot of them
    Words escape me on what their punishment should be if found guilty…..
    And as for dutts and his accusation of “politicisation” of the report, frankly he has sunk political commentary to a new but not unexpected low.

  2. Canguro

    Unless real action is taken against the main protagonists, effectively they will have gotten away with this massively damaging & illegal bludgeoning of the most vulnerable of Australian citizens. Real action. Without delay. At the very least, hauled before courts and prosecuted. Sanctioned. Stripped of post-parliamentary privileges, pensions, other sinecures normally afforded to former politicians of so-called stature. If the figure of something in the order of 2,000 deaths as a direct function of receipt of a debt notice is anywhere near accurate, then what has transpired is nothing less than the worst piece of public maladministration since the corruption within the Rum Corps of the 1790s.

    Personally, as stated elsewhere in these pages, I favour these Liberal fucktards being head-shaved, stripped and clothed in sackcloth, shackled into tumbrils and paraded through the streets of all the major Australian cities with the public specifically given free reign to pelt them with rotten eggs & fruit. Nothing less could be called justice for those maligned by these abusive & vile creatures. And shame on Australians for endorsing their election, repeatedly… a result begot by an unthinking and uncritical electorate indifferent to best-practice politics.

  3. Harry Lime

    Everybody that trawls this site knew long ago what the headline culprits were like.The Robodebt RC just bounces it all into the public domain.What percentage of the general population gives two hoots is anyone’s guess.And we are left with the dross like Dutton to carry on as if nothing of consequence happened.The only reason that he doesn’t appear with the aforementioned cretins is because he wasn’t deemed worthy of being part of that cabal.
    Elsewhere,the Albanese government continues to pursue debts that were issued under the robodebt criminality.(Pascoe,in today’s New Daily)So we might have flicked one mob,but not much has changed.Another black mark against Labor.

  4. Phil Pryor

    One may well suspect that driven conservatives pursue self created concepts while ignoring truth, morals, ethcs, decency, honesty and consequences. History is full of it, especially of the uncaring executive murderer and thief, who, not personally mind, gives orders, creates policy, trumpets attitudes, doctrines, wants, drives and inflexible paths for followers, in order to get personally fixated results. So much death, deprivation, isolation, suffering, occurs in today’s world because of murderous executive action, and the leaders of nations, corporations, agencies are the ones…and some, like Australia’s recent rows of conservative creepy, cringeworthy, foaming fools, are beyond decency, do not know or embrace truth, despise humanity as a weakness and go hard to be disgustingly “manly”, savage, uncaring, thoughtless and vainly obvious. In the dictionary of political bastardry, Dutton is near dunce and dung.

  5. Wayne Turner

    Dutton another example of how broken our alleged democracy is – This serial lying no standards idiot,is an election away from possibly being Prime Minister.

    The same Dutton,so bad,that the Libs gave us Morrison,to save us from Dutton.

  6. Phil

    Malisa Golightly passed away on 21/12/21.

  7. Michael Taylor

    Regardless, Phil, I’ll still like to learn the extent of her involvement, as would most people.

    I knew Malisa, and for a few years worked for her. We got on quite well. She was tough but fair back then. Her involvement in RoboDebt surprised me.

  8. Harry Lime

    JulianP, thanks for that, and the signs are not good for the Albanese government doing much of any consequence.The entire political quango in this country needs a thoroughgoing purge,which can’t happen while they are mostly tarred with the same brush.Liberal/Labor is merely a division of the same party.Most of the careerists that have arse kissed their way into Parliament have little or no real life experience, which opens the door for so many dumb decisions.

  9. leefe

    “They’ve sought to politicise this issue from day one.”

    It is, and always was, political. That’s what happens when one side of politics does something both immoral and illegal, and the other has to try to minimise the damage and ensure there is no future repeat. You can’t do something while in government that isn’t bloody political.

  10. Kerri

    Unlikely Malisa Golightly would be shaking in her boots.
    More likely she would be turning over as she has passed away.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Kerri, I was actually saddened when I heard about that shortly after her passing. I enquired with former work colleagues about the details, but she had left our department by then so nobody knew the cause.

    I have removed her name from John’s post. It was a silly faux pas.

  12. Clakka

    Agree fully with the article and comments.

    I think commissioner Catherine Holmes and her team did a brilliant job particularly in the face of witnesses, experts in deceit, obfuscation and misdirection. Nevertheless I agree with the view of Anthony Whealy with regard to the ‘sealed’ section, the names and associated referrals, and the citizens’ right to know.

    Regarding Morriscum, if my memory serves me right, it was his duty to carry the Robodebt submission to the ERC. The initial draft included (in mandatory comments) that enacting the provision would require legislation. Whereas in the final submission those comments were omitted – more serious and possibly criminal skulduggery by Morriscum.

  13. Canguro

    As a form of juxtaposition in the sense of just how bad governments can behave, the Post Office scandal in Britain is simply breathtaking in its venality, crookedness, bastardry, cover-uppery, pursuit of the innocents, along with their ruination, imprisonment, impoverishment and in many cases, death. In a certain sense it can be compared to the Robodebt scandal, in other ways there is no comparison, such is the scale of deceit and fuckuppery.

    Read it and weep, so to speak, Orwell’s nightmare laid large.

    After 20 years, here’s why the Post Office scandal is special.

  14. wam

    Loved your ps, lord,
    A chat with your rabbottians will reveal their loathing of dole bludgers and welfare cheats and their admiration of corporate bludgers and business cheats.
    The concept of robodebt was a dream to the conservative and an absolute vote winner right up there with boat people.
    To them your number 1 is the lie because the government did stop the scheme when they discovered vote losing problems.

  15. GL

    P Duddy: The genetic/demonic offspring of Little Johnny, the Abbott, Saint Scummo and a cannonball.

    “We’re so proud of him,” gushed Little Johnny and the Abbott.
    “He’s doing a marvellous job,” said Saint Scummo through gritted teeth and pasted on smile.
    The cannonball was unvailable for comment as it has been fired from it’s position in the LNP cannon.

  16. JulianP

    @Canguro. Thanks for that link to the UK Post Office scandal.
    I recall reading about it years ago and the several (?) inquiries.
    Given the level of official awfulness, words fail.

  17. Max Gross

    Peter Plod lies like he breathes, core criteria to be LP leader.

  18. Harry Lime

    Canguro,All I can say is ‘fuck me’.By comparison the Robodebt rogues would be in line for a knighthood(Hi, Tony).It turns out there are/were worse governments than our last ten years of trash.We might be not be at the end of civilisation,but you can fucking see it from here.

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