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Ex-Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull Never Considered the Legality of Robodebt

Commissioner Holmes described the robodebt scheme as "amateurish, rushed, and disastrous"

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Hrishita Chatterjee
Hrishita Chatterjee
Covering culture and trending topics

AUSTRALIA: Malcolm Turnbull, the former prime minister of Australia, did not consider the legality of the Robodebt Scheme. He was focused more on accuracy and fairness of the scheme.

He mentioned to the Royal Commission that “I did not turn my mind to the legality of the program”, adding that “it never occurred to us that it was unauthorised.”

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The cabinet took steps to ensure the budget-saving measure in 2015, when Turnbull did not serve as prime minister. He however was the leader as the scheme developed and got implemented.

The services minister, Stuart Robert, was pressured in the Parliament by the government on the testimony that he had to agree to guard the scheme, suspecting him of reclining on the averaging of the Tax Office income details in order to comprehend debts.

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Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said, “He had major concerns about the Robodebt plan’s legality in 2019 while serving as the responsible minister, but he persisted in publicly defending the scheme and using fabricated data that he was aware were bogus.”

When Turnbull was asked about the legality of the scheme, he blamed the cabinet submission from the former social services minister, Scott Morrison, in 2015.

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Turnbull mentioned, “To the cabinet, that is a pretty obvious representation. This has been examined by the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS). They have evaluated the constitutional procedure to see whether it has legislative authority, and they give Finance that recommendation.”

In January 2017, in light of more reports, Turnbull got in touch with the former Human Services Minister Alan Tudge about his whereabouts. He mentioned to commissioner Catherine Holmes that he had considered Tudge a “technocrat”.

He also added, “He was a management consultant. He was really experienced. I didn’t think of him as a thoughtless, incompetent, or negligent minister.”

Commissioner Holmes described the Robodebt Scheme as “amateurish, rushed, and disastrous.” Turnbull was asked if he tried to get the Digital Transformation Agency to help, and he responded that he had suggested doing so in January 2017 to improve the programme, but that plan had not worked out.

He added that the programme “needed leadership with good interpersonal skills to build confidence to get involved.”

Also Read: Steven Smith May Lead the Australian Side, as Pat Cummins Will Miss the Indore Test


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