Back to reality! The furious Scott Morrison returns from his vacation in the Mediterranean to deliver a fiery speech: “Wrong and absurd”
- Morrison criticized the royal commission on debt robbery
- He said there is a ‘political lynching’ campaign against him
- Robodebt illegally recovered over $750 million
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly defended his role in overseeing the illegal debt robbery scheme, rejecting the findings of a recent royal commission.
In his first in-person comments since the publication of the royal commission’s final report on July 7, Morrison said the findings against him were “disproportionate, erroneous and unsubstantiated” and accused the Labor government of “political lynching.”
The report says Morrison had “allowed the cabinet to be misled” about the legality of the scheme when he was social services minister.
But Morrison told parliament on Monday that the findings of the Royal Commission on the Debt Robbery Scheme had been contradicted by the evidence presented to it.
“However, I completely reject the commission’s adverse findings regarding my own role as Minister of Social Services, between December 2014 and September 2015, as disproportionate, incorrect and unfounded,” Morrison said.
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison returned from his Mediterranean holiday and gave a scathing response to the royal commission’s findings on the illegal debt robbery scheme (pictured Scott Morrison waiting for a ferry on the Greek island of Sifnos)
However, he was “deeply sorry” about the impact the debt robbery scheme had on welfare recipients.
Morrison accused the Labor government of libel following the commission’s findings.
“For the government to condemn me now for having an opinion that it shared and held for more than three years after I took office is pure hypocrisy,” he said.
“The latest attacks on my character by the government in connection with this report are just one more attempt by the government after my departure from office to discredit me and my service to our country.
“This political lynching campaign has once again included the weaponization of a quasi-legal process to launder political revenge from the government.
They have to move on.
Morrison said he had no role or responsibility in the administration of the debt robbery scheme when he was a minister.
“The commission’s conclusion unfairly and retroactively applies a consensus on understanding the legal status of the scheme that was simply not present or communicated at the time,” it said.
“This is clearly an unreasonable, untenable and false basis for making the serious charge of allowing the cabinet to be misled.”
Government Services Minister Bill Shorten earlier told parliament that the commission had rejected the evidence provided by Morrison.
“He may have convinced himself, but he failed to convince the royal commission and indeed the majority of Australians,” he said.
Shorten said the government was considering the 57 recommendations put forward in the royal commission’s final report.
Morrison said the findings against him were “disproportionate, erroneous and unsubstantiated” and accused the Labor government of “political lynching”.
The former coalition government launched the debt robbery scheme to ‘detect, investigate and deter suspected welfare fraud and non-compliance’ in mid-2015 in an effort to save billions of dollars.
The scheme issued debt notices to individuals identified through a process called income averaging, which compared reported income with tax office data.
More than $750 million was improperly recovered from 381,000 people, and victims told the commission about their trauma and fear when they received notices and contacted debt collectors.
Commissioner Catherine Holmes’ report outlined a litany of human impacts, including families struggling to make ends meet and young people becoming desperate. Two men in their 20s committed suicide.
Morrison said he would continue to defend his time in government, adding that he was pleased to continue serving his Sydney-based Cook constituency.
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