The robodebt royal commission’s final report, led by Commissioner Catherine Holmes, underscores a potential irreversible damage to the public’s trust in both the social security system and the broader Australian government. The robodebt scheme, perceived by many as unjust, has significantly eroded public trust, and its impact may be enduring. An anonymous submission to the commission highlighted the betrayal felt by citizens who adhered to the rules, only to be treated as cheats by an illegal departmental scheme. The Centre for Public Integrity’s research director, Catherine Williams, emphasized the fragility of democracy and how public trust is pivotal for its functionality. She cautioned that without trust, Australia’s democratic foundation is jeopardized. Williams stressed the need for the government to swiftly address the commission’s findings, especially regarding structural reform, to restore trust. Immediate actions on referrals to bodies like the AFP and the NACC are also deemed necessary.

This is a summary of “Robodebt’s ‘potentially irreversible’ damage to trust in government” published in The Mandarin on July 18, 2023, written by Anna Macdonald. Read it in full here.