House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Statements by Members

Pensions and Benefits

1:42 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Now that it's confirmed robodebt was illegal, it's time for the government to take responsibility and to immediately repay all robodebts, tax free and in full. It's simply not good enough that uncertainty remains for the many victims of the debacle. For instance, it's still unclear as to whether the government intends to repay those debts that were appealed. Obviously, considering the systemic problems with the appeals process, including how debts were finally calculated, it should repay them.

Moreover, issues have been raised regarding how the repayment of robodebts will impact people's tax returns in previous and future years. Obviously, the government would just be rubbing salt into the wounds if robodebt repayments incurred further debts with the ATO. Tens of thousands of Australians have had their finances and health badly affected by these debts. Some families have even lost loved ones to suicide. It simply defies belief that the government would want this debacle to continue and for victims to further suffer.

I call on the minister to act decisively and to announce full, tax-free repayments of all robodebts, including those that were appealed. Anything else would only prolong the distress caused to so many already. The last thing we want to see is more appeals and legal cases if the government now forces victims to fight for what is rightly theirs.