Final week of robodebt royal commission public hearings
KEY POINTS FROM THE ROBODEBT ROYAL COMMISSION ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 8, 2023
* The commission heard from representatives from the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the independent watchdog that investigated the departments overseeing robodebt in 2017.
* Senior assistant ombudsman Louise Macleod became emotional after finding out key documents which would have ended the robodebt scheme were not provided to her investigation.
* Ms Macleod saw for the first time multiple documents including emails from 2014 flagging legal problems with income averaging.
* Had this legal advice been provided to her office, Ms Macleod said the Ombudsman would have publicly called for the scheme to cease.
* A separate email, also not provided to Ms Macleod at the time, showed the department knew 76 per cent of debts were based on averaging a person's earnings.
* The department had presented income averaging as being used only as a last resort.
* The Ombudsman investigation was triggered by a dramatic jump in complaints from people who had received Centrelink debt notices.
* The commission also heard from a Deloitte representative on the firm's technical study of robodebt.
* The Deloitte review found artificial intelligence was not present in the program.
* Rather it was a "relatively basic" automation system and could not learn from mistakes or become more accurate over time.
* The review also found the department of human services did not have any risk management frameworks related to the robodebt program.
* The fourth block of public hearings is in its final week.
* The robodebt scheme ran from 2015 to 2019 and used income averaging of tax office data to calculate and raise debts.