Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
My question is again to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister apologise to Australians targeted by the illegal robodebt scheme? Can he confirm that this is a scheme that he both created and announced on 28 June 2016?
As the Leader of the Opposition would be aware, the matters that he referred to are still being pursued through legal processes. But let me say this: the matter upon which the government has made a policy decision is on the basis of income averaging—a practice that was implemented by the Labor Party in government and embraced by the Labor Party as part of their debt recovery mechanisms. It was an issue of income averaging—income averaging that could not be relied on solely in order to raise debts in relation to social security matters. That is the matter—that is the actual matter. It is a policy and it is a principle that was embraced by the Labor Party, that has been followed by this government. Where the circumstances have now presented that that income averaging is not something that could be relied upon solely, then the government has made it right. And that is what we should have done, and that is what we are doing, and that is setting that matter aright. I would simply ask, given that the Labor Party have raised this: do they now believe that they did the wrong thing when they used income averaging, a policy that they used? That was their policy. We continued that policy. This has nothing to do with the issues of technology or how technology is used to do this. It is based on the principle of income averaging—something Labor embraced and now, for political purposes, once again, seeks to reject.
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
I am indeed seeking leave to table a document, headed 'The Hon. Scott Morrison MP', that speaks about the coalition's plan for better management of the social welfare system 'through the smarter use of technology'. It acknowledges that that was their plan.
Leave not granted.