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I dread to think about what the Royal Commission into Robodebt might conclude

I have read and watched the evidence of those involved in this sordid tale of political skulduggery, and I dread to think about what lay ahead for the chief protagonists.

In my email inbox sits the latest newsletter from the Robodebt Royal Commission. It reads as follows.

23 June 2023

“The Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme has updated a Do Not Publish order.

DNP-0022 has been updated further to include an additional exception on point (c) and (d) of page one.

Report Information

The truth shall set you free, or will it?

That is a week from now, but those like me who want justice done must wait until the Parliament sits again on Monday, 3 July. It will receive the report then and release it soon afterwards. Well, that’s what I expect to happen. A statement as inflammable as this will require the Government’s immediate attention.

The report promises to be highly explosive, with former Prime Minister Morrison, Attorney General Porter, Minister Tudge, Minister Robert, and Minister Payne facing an uncertain future. It is plain to all and sundry that some or possibly all of those mentioned will face further investigation by the Federal Police. And you can add to that a culpable public service.

Finally, the truth will emerge from an exhaustive Royal Commission by the Commissioner Catherine Holmes AC SC.

The Royal Commission was established to:

“… enquire into the establishment, design and implementation of the Robodebt scheme; the use of third-party debt collectors under the Robodebt scheme; concerns raised following the performance of the Robodebt scheme; and the intended or actual outcomes of the Robodebt scheme.”

The cruelty of the scheme, as has been widely reported:

“More than 2030 people died after receiving a Centrelink debt notice, also known as robo-debt, according to data released by the Department of Human Services.”

The Royal Commission spent over nine weeks in a Brisbane hotel ballroom cross-examining one hundred witnesses, including three former Prime Ministers. They were all sworn to tell the truth. Sometimes a little blood fell onto the dance floor.

Hours passed, and sometimes hours bled into days as public servants waited to give evidence. Politicians were forensically asked questions by a King’s Council and a former Queensland chief justice about one of the country’s most egregious failures of public administration. Arguably the worst failure in public policy in Australian political history.

The witnesses in this sordid affair were taken as far back as 2014 and questioned about emails, conversations, and even scribbled notes. In doing so, it found the origin of a government program that would unleash misery on the country’s most vulnerable.

A woman with extraordinary deftness led the Royal Commission and did what a court probably couldn’t. She wrenched open the iron gates of legal professional privilege and cabinet confidentiality to expose the passageways of power.

Why did the Government proceed with the scheme after finding it illegal? That is the big question. Who was responsible? Let’s hope Catherine Ena Holmes, AC SC, will provide the answers.

My thought for the day

Do you shape the truth for the sake of a good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down people’s view of you? Alternatively, do you use the contrivance of omission and create another lie? I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth, but there is no harm in it.


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  1. GL

    I’m not holding my breath for any sort of decisive action to be taken by the commission. Finger waggling, lots of Skippy the kangaroo impressions and a few slaps on the wrists then it’s out the door. In the final analysis a huge waste of money and time because Labor would be wary of being targetted at a later date by the LNP if (and that’s a big IF with The Spud currently in charge) they ever get back in.

  2. New England Cocky

    Yawn!!! Oh well, Scummo set up Robodebt and good mate Stewie persecuted the victims of this abuse of statistics and real life data. After the NSW Binchicken & Dodgy Daryl Report proposed no action against a self confessed political scammer, why would any thinking Australian voter dare to think that any member of the 2013 to 2022 COALition of corrupt crooks would send even ten seconds incarcerated on Manus or Nauru under the same conditions as legal refugees?

  3. Terence Mills

    Royal Commissions (and ICACs) generally allow that any evidence given to the Royal Commission cannot be used against that witness in any subsequent Civil or Criminal Court proceedings.
    This is why sometimes criminal charges do not proceed because ‘admissible’ evidence is insufficient to convince the DPP that a conviction ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ will be achieved.

    Whilst this rationale may seem to be incompatible with the way our justice system should work there is a reason for it. Royal Commissions (and ICACs) have the powers to compel people to give evidence including evidence that may incriminate them, however to encourage witnesses to be frank and honest it is considered reasonable that this evidence should not later be used in criminal proceedings against them. This statutory trade-off is seen as appropriate where witnesses are compelled to testify against themselves but inevitably, if there is no other compelling evidence, criminal proceedings may not follow.

    With Robodebt, we will have to wait and see.

  4. Ross

    C’mon John the rest of us can’t wait to see what lay ahead for the chief protagonists.
    Kama is such a wondrous thing.
    What their “just deserts” are, if any, only time will tell.
    For the moment critically damaging Liberal party electoral chances in the short to medium term will suffice.

  5. Gabby Hunt

    If it is left to the AFP aka LFP (Liberal Federal Police, allegedly) we’ll have Buckley’s chance of any charges being laid. We’ve all seen how they operate!

  6. Harry Lime

    If there’s any future for our country, a goodly number of these fucking crooked bastards need to have their arses kicked all the way to the slammer.Everyone in positions of authority must be shown there are severe consequences for corruption,be it politics or corporations (looking at you,PwC).Given some of the reaction from the usual suspects on the conservative side, regarding Gladys “she’s not corrupt” illustrates that those fuckers still don’t know the difference between right and wrong,and that’s a big part of the reason the country is in the shit.An unequivocal message needs to be sent to sent to those contemplating the dark side.Maybe that will attract a higher standard of people into politics.We can only hope. Sool the cops onto them,NACC.If there are any people on the Labor side getting sweaty palms…best find another job. While I’m in full rave mode,Labor had better start taking climate change seriously,or risk running second to the Greens.

  7. totaram

    Regarding “she’s not corrupt”: Notice they made that assessment, without even reading the report (they could NOT have read it by now unless they have super human abilities). In other words, whatever is in the report is irrelevant. Fascinating!

  8. Alotl Axolotl

    Morrison, Porter, Tudge, Robert and Payne will NEVER face incarceration for they are of The Elite and Real Law does not apply to them.
    Real Law is purely a Plebian Construct and long may they pay for Elitist wrongdoings.

  9. leefe

    Let us hope that the current schedule is adhered to.

    A mate of mine has been working with the Tasmanian Commission of Enquiry into institutional child abuse. They were supposed to have been finished a year ago. She’s going to be involved with finalising the report for at least another 10 weeks and that may blow out even more. These things are complex.

    I know the testimony given at the RC can’t be used against the people who gave it, but can it be used to find evidence of culpability of others?

  10. Lyndal

    Underlying the tragedy of Robodebt, and hopefully to be at least worth a comment from the Royal Commissioners, is the difficulty of even getting to speak to an informed human being at CentreLink.. The first thing many recipients of robodebt threat letters would have done would have been to call Centrelink, and after negotiating a very uncooperative computer answering and allocation system, they would have been left listening for hours before probably getting into a round Robin of unhelpful and sometimes unpleasant advisors whose underlying attitude was clearly: ” You’re a scammer”

    One of the unfair things about this program was that it caught people who were having a go, getting themselves into part-time and temporary jobs, and then being targeted through the matching between the Tax Office and CentreLink. Someone who did no work, was not subject to investigation or pursuit.

  11. Terence Mills

    Regarding Berejiklian and why she and any other public servant must declare conflicts of interest which could influence their judgement, was the recorded statement from an exchange between the NSW Pemier and the man she had formed a relationship with :

    Dodgy Daryl Maguire : “Yeh but I am the boss, even when you’re the premier,”

    Berejiklian: “Yes, I know”

    That was after she had told him that one of his pet projects for Wagga Wagga had bee approved ; “We ticked off your conservatorium the other day so that’s a done deal now”, says Berejiklian – he complains it’s not enough :

    “That’s the building and ten million, not the rest of it. Not the next stage,” he whinges.

    We should all find that relationship to be disturbing !

  12. leefe

    Maguire is a seriously nasty piece of work. That recording shows him to be controlling and abusive. I feel sorry for anyone in a relattiionship with such a person; they don’t usually show their real colours until you’re in too deep to see the truth.
    As is often the case, he’ll probably skate and Berejiklian will bear the brunt of it.

  13. andyfiftysix

    Harry Lime, you hit the spot. “Given some of the reaction from the usual suspects on the conservative side, regarding Gladys “she’s not corrupt” illustrates that those fuckers still don’t know the difference between right and wrong” This is the liberal IPA policy agenda writ large. ITS TOTALLY IMMORAL. It relys on doing nasty things because ……thats how capitalism in its purest form needs to be implemented.

    Totaram, yes it does seem like straight out of Trump’s play book. Say any BS to cloud the issue. True beleivers will discard the evidence because……..beleif always trumps the truth in 30% of us. Dutton’s rump loves to stay on message.

    This can be routed back to one Tony Abbott. This MF enabled all sorts of immoral liberal thought processes. You didnt need policies, you just need to relentlessly try to destroy the other side. The dog that caught the wheel.

    Morrison bought in holus bolus, remember his “on water policies”, the cruelty, the top secret shut down of media AND the straw man arguement of people smugglers…… know, people smuggling was the top crime, not that letting refugees in was the devils work. And we were complicit by voting them in again and again.

    And to top it off, Morrison with a sence of Hubris started robodebt. This nasty DEVIL was parading his evangelical christian credentials. WTF was the christian comunity thinking? Morrison and the pedophiles in the churches have gone a long way to badly crippling their audience numbers. With people like these, i would say god doesnt need enemies, his “chosen few” are worse than even JC anticipated. Karma works in myterious ways.

  14. Harry Lime

    Cocky,the only thing really missing from those little shots of the Virgin Gladys are the height charts in the background.

  15. tess lawrence

    Onya Dear John, thanks for this heads up. Can’t wait to read the report- and to see what is said of the ghastly Devil’s Quandtrangle of Porter, Tudge and Robert and the Overseer, Morrison! Their conduct was reprehensible and caused loss of life. Just loved that the Commissioner took no nonsense from them.

  16. Wayne Turner

    I am dreading the report.

    This country is completely corrupt,and sadly expect f all to happen to all the criminals involved in RoboDebt. Plus,all the
    corrupt MSM will either bury the findings,or excuse them

    Still all those that get off lightly will always be referred to me as corrupt criminals.

    On another note: Corrupt Gladys can f off,and sadly can all the gutless people that praised her after the findings. Including that gutless idiot Chris Minns.

    Australia the land of corruption.

  17. Canguro

    I know you’ll argue it’s merely a turn of phrase, John Lord, but why would you choose to say that you ‘dread to think’ what lies in waiting for the venal criminal stooges Sludge, Scummy, Pooter & Robot? In a world predicated on rational & appropriate assessment, one might instead suggest that one awaits with eager anticipation the arrival of justice and due desserts for this pack of low-rent slimeballs; perhaps a wall against which they are shackled as the ready, aim, fire countdown delivers payback, or if not, the beak’s determination that fifteen to twenty years in the slammer and not a day less, and let the lesson be learned that Australians will no longer, ever again, tolerate the degree of egregious hog-wallowing in the trough of public monies and that the issues of probity, ethical behaviour, public trust, fair play, benefit to the electorates at large and evenly, be damned. And let their names be inscribed forever on the wall of shame, as a lesson to all of us that this is what awaits when the temptation to abuse the trust of office overrides the implicit duty of care and maintenance of proper standards of public behaviour.

    It’s not good enough to simply name & shame. Consequences have to have a relation to costs. If these examples of the worst abuses of public office walk away, pensions intact, essentially undisturbed by the processes ensuing from their corruption, then what’s the takeaway message? That it’s a reasonably risk-free enterprise to be a political carpetbagger cum stinky pile of dog’s doo-dah, when the worst that can happen is a few weeks of bad press and a slap on the wrist? And especially so when the so-called ‘little people’ are sent to the slammer for far far less acts of damage at personal or larger levels.

  18. Max Gross

    Prediction is a fool’s game but I’ll give it a red hot go: there will be some harsh words but neither Morrison, Porter, Robert, Tudge or Payne will suffer so much as a tap on the wrist with a month-old celery stalk

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