The government has admitted it may be forced to pay damages in the wake off the Robodebt fuckup, on top of the $721 million it already has to repay to Aussies.
In 2019, a class action was launched by Gordon Legal to seek damages for people targetted by the scheme.
On Sunday, Attorney-General Christian Porter told the ABC’s Insiders the government had no choice but to consider some form of compensation.
“That’s something that we dealt with in mediation and no doubt that’s a position that will be put by the class action,” he said.
.@cporterwa says the Commonwealth’s position on compensation for damages or interest on #robodebt has not yet been finalised and doesn’t rule out the $721 million payout increasing. #auspol #insiders pic.twitter.com/KQHziSM8o2
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) May 31, 2020
However he did add the government would also argue for other options, such as repaying interest on the debts.
Porter was Social Services Minister back in 2016 when Centrelink brought in automated debt collection.
While repaying the debts is a huge win for many, it does not fix the financial and emotional stress it caused. This is also the main argument of the class action.
“It doesn’t resolve the class action, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Government still needs to answer to claims of compensation and claims of damages and inconvenience and distress that this system has caused,” Gordon Legal principal lawyer James Naughton told ABC News.
Later on Insiders, host David Speers asked Porter if the government would apologise for the whole debacle.
“The system was flawed,” he said straight-up, but was hesitant to use the a-word.
“I’m not going to use that word because there’s litigation ongoing, and as Attorney-General I can’t use that sort of language in the context of litigation.”
So that’s probably as close to an official apology we’re going get for the time being.