The controversial robodebt scheme would have been fundamentally changed or stopped altogether had independent legal advice been sought on the issue, a royal commission has been told.
The commission examining the Centrelink debt recovery scheme was told such independent advice would have “reputational damage” to the government and the departments administering the program.
Former Social Services principal legal officer Anna Fredericks told the commission that obtaining independent legal advice on the scheme was sought, but tensions between the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services prevented it from occurring.
“If independent legal advice had been sought at the time and had full scope and awareness of the program, I have no doubt they would have come to that view (of it being unlawful),” she said.
“It would have undoubtedly led to a redesign or cessation … it would have likely caused reputational damage to those two departments but also to the government.”
Source: Robodebt advice would cause damage: lawyer – Michael West