House debates

Wednesday, 22 March 2023


Personal Explanation

3:35 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

The Minister for Government Services said today that no-one responded to Mrs Madgwick's correspondence. As I told the House on 1 December 2020, Mrs Madgwick's son's debt was lawfully raised. It was not a robodebt; it was not part of the robodebt cohort. I also made the point at the time that at that point—and it's probably not dissimilar now—a million Australians owed a total of $5 billion. The department gets one escalation of serious harm every single day. Notwithstanding that, the department contacted Mrs Madgwick. I went and personally reviewed the correspondence in phone calls between my department and every call to her son. I reviewed the text to ensure my department was acting appropriately. A deputy secretary for my department went and visited Mrs Madgwick in her lounge room to talk her through the lawful basis on which the debt was raised.

On the second matter, the Prime Minister said that, once I'd been informed that robodebt was unlawful, we continued to raise debts. That is incorrect. I'd been sworn in as a minister, and within something like 39 days I'd asked for legal advice, noting none had been given. As soon as that legal advice was given to me, within two hours, I walked into the Prime Minister's office and closed it down. Of the apparently one million records that have been provided to the royal commission, you will not find a single document that shows that any legal advice to the contrary was provided to me.


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