Establishment of the Royal Commission into Robodebt

Media release
25 Aug 2022
Prime Minister, Minister for Social Services, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Minister for Government Services, Attorney-General

The Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) has issued Letters Patent establishing a Royal Commission into the former debt assessment and recovery scheme commonly known as Robodebt. 

The inquiry will examine, among other things: 

  • The establishment, design and implementation of the scheme; who was responsible for it; why they considered Robodebt necessary; and, any concerns raised regarding the legality and fairness;
  • The handling of concerns raised about the scheme, including adverse decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal;
  • The outcomes of the scheme, including the harm to vulnerable individuals and the total financial cost to government; and
  • Measures needed to prevent similar failures in public administration.

The Royal Commission’s focus will be on decisions made by those in positions of seniority. The full scope of the inquiry is outlined in the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference.

Commonwealth agencies will work to respond expeditiously to requests made by the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commissioner is Catherine Holmes AC SC. The Commissioner is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland and brings vast experience from a distinguished legal career.

The Commissioner led the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry following the 2010-11 floods and acted as counsel assisting the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions in 1998-99.

The Government has allocated $30 million for the Royal Commission and the final report will be delivered to the Governor-General by 18 April 2023.

The headquarters of the Royal Commission will be in Brisbane and information about hearing dates and how to participate will be provided in the coming weeks.

A legal financial assistance scheme will be available to people requested to formally engage with the Royal Commission, for example, to appear as a witness.