Royal commission must go deep into the who, how and why of the brutal robodebt

There’s a long list of former ministers who need to be made to answer for their actions, and an even longer list of bureaucrats.

(Image: Gorkie/Private Media)

Here’s a short, non-exclusive list of people who should be witnesses at the robodebt royal commission:

  • Former social services ministers Scott Morrison, Christian Porter, Dan Tehan, Paul Fletcher and Anne Ruston
  • Former human services ministers Stuart Robert, Alan Tudge and Michael Keenan
  • Tudge’s chief of staff Andrew Asten, along with every chief of staff of every former minister in the two portfolios
  • Former Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell. And an extensive list of the bureaucrats who worked under her in the implementation of the robodebt scheme and the Coalition’s attempts to defend it: Jonathan Hutson, Annette Musolino, Hank Jongen, Anthony Seebach, Jason McNamara — and that’s just the beginning.

They’ll find giving evidence at a royal commission a little different from ducking and weaving at an estimates hearing or Senate committee inquiry. They’ll find “I’ll take that on notice” won’t fly. They’ll find counsel assisting will keep at them without a minister or government senators being able to run interference. They’ll find the royal commission has a mountain of documents to scrutinise everything they say.

As for the former ministers, they’ll find it’s very different from question time or a media conference. And their former staffers will be forced to face something they’ve never experienced: public accountability.

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