Robodebt regal commission report gave over – as it worked out

What we learned today, Friday 7 July
It’s been a big day of news today, most of it about the long-awaited findings of the robodebt royal commission. It’s Friday night and it’s been a long week, so here’s a recap of some of the key things that happened today:

The robodebt royal commissioner, Catherine Holmes, condemned the scheme as “crude and cruel” and “neither fair nor legal” in her report, released today. She described the scandal as stemming from “venality, incompetence and cowardice”.
Holmes made referrals to four different unnamed authorities for further investigation. Holmes has deliberately not provided information about the referrals in her final report.

Holmes directly criticised the former prime minister Scott Morrison, saying he “allowed cabinet to be misled” by not making proper inquiries about why the Department of Social Services said its proposal to use income averaging required legislative change, but then backflipped on that.
The royal commission’s report was also scathing of the former government services minister Stuart Robert and former Department of Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell.
Morrison said he “reject[ed] completely each of the findings which are critical of my involvement in authorising the scheme and are adverse to me”.
Holmes said some of the former human services minister Alan Tudge’s actions represented a “reprehensible” “abuse of power”. Tudge responded, strongly rejecting Holmes’ comments about his actions.

Christian Porter, Alan Tudge and Stuart Robert all said they had not received notice that they were included in the sealed referral section of the report.
Robodebt ended up costing taxpayers $565m, but delivered no savings, despite the scheme being intended to achieve approximately $4.7bn in savings.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, called the robodebt scheme “a gross betrayal and a human tragedy”, while the minister for government services, Bill Shorten, said “the previous government and senior public servants gaslighted the nation and its citizens for four and a half years”.
We’ll be following up on the fallout of the report later tonight and over the coming days at the Guardian so stay tuned. In the meantime, thanks so much for your company today. Look after yourselves.


‘A moment of justice’: Victoria Legal Aid on robodebt report

Miles Browne, a managing lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid that launched a successful federal court challenge against robodebt, has responded to the royal commission’s findings today.

Browne says the report “represents a moment of justice and vindication for everyone who was harmed by this scheme”:

Accountability matters. People matter. Social security matters.

We’re proud of our clients and our role in helping end robodebt, but we hope never to be in that position again.

Robodebt ran for years and it took an immense effort from many individuals and organisations to bring it to heel.

We raised issues with its lawfulness from very early days. That the government had to be taken to court by our clients is a failure of administration and an indictment on all those who had the power to bring this scheme to a close.

We are pleased to see some accountability, given the unnecessary hurt caused.

Browne says it is “vital” that welfare recipients “have a say in shaping the system, so that it works for them, as it is meant to do” and echoed the commissioner’s call for an end to “anti-welfare rhetoric”:

People receiving social security support deserve to be heard, to understand and exercise their rights, and to have access to legal and non-legal help to do that – including from legal aid commissions, community legal centres and financial counsellors.

Two men shot in Sydney, with one critically injured

There was a shooting in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville earlier this afternoon, across the road from the prime minister, Anthony Albanese’s electorate office.

Two men have been shot with one man critically injured, New South Wales police say.

Albanese Tweed  this afternoon:

My thoughts are with my community after a shooting in Marrickville across the road from my electorate office. My team are all safe. NSW police are on the scene conducting an investigation.

You can read more about the story here:

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