A public service culture of reward and punishment could have led senior officers to stay quiet about the unlawful robo-debt scheme, a royal commission has been told.
When problems with the scheme were revealed, former minister Stuart Robert wanted to “double down” rather than apologise and correct the error, the hearing was told.
When the program was discovered to be unlawful, Leon advised Robert that the department should apologise to customers, admit the error and inform the public of steps to correct it.
She remembered Robert replied: “We absolutely will not be doing that. We will double down.”
Leon said some ministers suggested ending the robo-debt program while not repaying debts or telling anyone unless people appealed, but she felt this was inconsistent with legal obligations.
Source: Robo-debt: Minister Stuart Robert wanted to ‘double down’ when problems revealed, royal commission told