House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Pensions and Benefits

4:00 pm

Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

US President Harry Truman used to have a sign on his desk saying 'The buck stops here'. If the Prime Minister had a sign on his desk, it would say 'I don't hold a hose'. In fact, no-one in this government holds a hose on anything or appears to care about the consequences of either maladministration or inaction. That callous indifference to consequence was on show again for all to hear in question time this week.

Members of the House will remember that last September we had an MPI debate on robodebt. In that debate I provided examples of affected Bean constituents and called out this terrible scheme. Today I speak again to call out this government's failure to take responsibility for its illegal scheme, a scheme that has done so much damage to so many families in Bean and across the country.

You can just imagine the minister responsible for robodebt ringing around trying to find some members to talk in the September MPI debate and defend this shameless scheme. He may have said: 'Trust me. We'll give you some talking points you can obfuscate on. Just go in the chamber, blame them, attack the member for Maribyrnong, take no responsibility, say it's a scare campaign and, if you want to go there, remind people on welfare that they should consider themselves lucky for the support of the tax system.'

I'm sure he got a few knockbacks from MPs, like the member for Bass, but the minister did find a few members who were willing and able. We had the minister himself try his rubbish we-all-collect-debt argument. He failed then and is failing now to take responsibility for this scheme. We had the member for Petrie, who spoke 'with pleasure' on this matter. Then we had the member for Barker, who too was 'pleased' to defend the scheme, saying that the pursuit of justice was nothing more than a roboscare campaign.


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