Final hearings as Federal Government fights to keep Robodebt information secret

30 November 2021
The Federal Government’s long-running effort to block access to documents underpinning its botched Robodebt scheme will be heard before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Thursday 2 December and Thursday 23 December 2021.

The case centres on early business plans and other documents produced by the Department of Human Services – now known as Services Australia – to justify the rollout of the Robodebt scheme.

These documents could reveal what Prime Minister Scott Morrison and senior ministers Christian Porter and Alan Tudge knew when they had responsibility for the program.

Justin Warren first requested access to the Robodebt documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws in 2017.

In 2019 he secured a finding from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for the documents to be released.

Services Australia appealed the OAIC’s decision, and the Tribunal first considered the appeal in June 2021.

Services Australia subsequently applied to reopen its case and introduce new evidence from public servants. That evidence will be heard in this long running legal dispute on 2 December 2021.

The parties will make their closing arguments on 23 December 2021. The Tribunal’s decision is expected in the New Year.

The case forms part of the Grata FOI Project and is being run pro bono by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ Social Justice Practice.

Media access to the hearing:

Each hearing will commence at 10:00am and run for approximately 3-5 hours.

Journalists who wish to attend the hearing should email media@aat.gov.au before 8am on the day of the hearing with their request.

Detailed instructions on how media and the public can request access to the hearing are available on the Tribunal’s website.

Background materials:

Further information regarding the case can be found on the Grata Fund website.

Stories about the impact of the unlawful Robodebt program are available at the #NotMyDebt website.

Media contacts:

Richard George, Grata Fund, 0403 771 139 or richard@gratafund.org.au
Chee Chee Leung, Maurice Blackburn, 0412 560 584 or cleung@mauriceblackburn.com.au

 

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