On Thursday 10 August 2023, I made a speech in Federal Parliament in response to the Robodebt Royal Commission findings. You can watch the full speech here or read the transcript below.
I rise to speak in support of the motion moved by the member for Maribyrnong. The report of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme is the culmination of years of fighting, advocacy and bravery from thousands of victims and their families, who were indiscriminately targeted and traumatised by the callous and illegal scheme. But justice is far from done. The member for Maribyrnong knows his government needs to do more. There are other recommendations that need urgent attention.
Last week the Greens introduced an amendment to implement a robodebt royal commission recommendation to reinstate the six-year limit on social security debt recovery so that people aren't yet again hounded by debt collectors in perpetuity and so that robodebt isn't repeated. Labor voted against it. We've had 20 years of unfair Centrelink debts raised against people living in poverty. As well as failing to raise the rate, one of the member for Maribyrnong's first actions this term was to announce that the Labor government would recommence targeting jobseekers with more aggressive debt collection.
These are political choices. Labor are choosing to make life harder and more stressful for people on poverty payments, all the while claiming they're championing victims of automated debt collection. The fact that the member for Maribyrnong can't see the hypocrisy is surprising. Imagine if as much effort went into making sure big corporations and billionaires paid their fair share of taxes. Imagine if we helped people in need of government support instead of hounding and shaming them. Labor must act on all the elements of the royal commission recommendations without delay. The government cannot keep failing people on income support. We've had one horrific robodebt scheme; we must not repeat it, or the member for Maribyrnong will be just as complicit as the member for Cook.