MP responsible for robodebt failure won’t apologise for incorrect assessments

The Federal Government minister who presided over the failed robodebt scheme that generated around 470,000 incorrect welfare debts has refused to apologise amid an ongoing class action lawsuit that could see a final payout of more than $1 billion.

The government announced on Friday that $721 million will be refunded for the failure thrown up by the scheme because of faulty income assessments made by the Australian Taxation Office.

Attorney-General Christian Porter was the MP that oversaw the robodebt scheme as it unfolded and – despite saying the failure is “an unfortunate outcome” – has refused to apologise.

“We’re refunding everyone who has been part of the compliance system using income averaging,” he said today.

“The system was flawed. I’m not going to use that word because there is litigation ongoing.”

Thousands of Australians were affected by the incorrect assessments conducted between 2016 and November last year that have since been deemed illegal.

“(It was) an unlawful unjust scheme chasing 100s of 1000s of innocent Australians for debts they didn’t owe,” Bill Shorten, Labor’s government services minister, said.

“This government acted like a legalised mafia shaking down vulnerable people.”

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