The comparison is rather weak. On the face of it the one is recovering legal debts and the other is not a recoverable debt. Yes I know the robodebt scheme was said to be legal, is there any evidence that this debt recovery is not? I suppose there is one area of similarity that both are unpopular. Perhaps in a democracy we should vote on these things, if you are popular you get your debts forgiven, if unpopular you have to repay even if the money was received legally.
The lawyers do not appear to be the problem here, as they get less than 10% of the (ridiculously small) ‘compensation’ part of the settlement. Instead, the law is the problem. As stated in the article:
…it was generally accepted by legal experts that Services Australia did not owe people “any duty of reasonable care when exercising its powers under the social security law”.
The compensation was calculated based upon lost interest on money unlawfully collected. Personal injury was never even a consideration.
The obvious solution is to change laws where necessary to ensure that government entities have a duty of care.
A more obvious ‘solution’ is to write laws that severely penalise governments (eg the front bench ministers) who cause overstep even after being advised they are going into illegal territory but refuse to back off.
Proven is your operative word and technically correct.
I rely on the media reports of the time that the Honourable Minister and responsible head received advice it was questionable if not actually illegal but they went ahead anyway. During the debacle it was similarly reported government was advised it was not on.
While this report was a contention in court when written, it reflects how it went.
The RC will review the process within the scope allowed, and as with any RC the governments of the day will make their lists and move on. Considering the actions of many ministers in many levels of government over the years whether it will raise the standard of government is always a hope yet remains largely unlikely. Good government is a concept voters do not seem to be attracted to nearly as much as to tax cuts or a new footy stadium in their city.
I cannot agree that is a self evident expectation. The culpable will never accept they may have been responsible for something proven to be illegal hence some restitution, but might allow they could have done it a little better while claiming they did no wrong.
Since it is government itself that writes laws, there is an obvious limitation to this idea. Can’t see this working in the People’s Republic of Western Australia.
It is unclear what specific penalties you have in mind, assuming that you want to penalise the “government” (not really possible) and not the taxpayer. Realistically the only penalty for a minister is sacking as minister - but that frequently happens through the political process anyway (as well as through the electoral process).
A later post from you suggests it is Christian Porter who is the minister responsible but you can’t sack someone from the ministry who is no longer even in parliament - and yet if you make it a legal problem then you are also required to give due process, which will often mean years of delay.
The fact that a policy may have been through a conga line of ministers also raises questions as to who specifically is responsible and who specifically should be penalised.
Other possible sanctions that you could have in mind:
a fine - but that really would often actually penalise the taxpayer (and would it be an insurable risk as is the case for the directors of a company?)
removal from parliament - but I have major reservations about that from a democratic point of view and it seems as if it could too easily be weaponised
Personal liability as with company directors who transgress, and no government funding for backup or bailing them out. I would propose something that reflected the codes and laws requiring certain professions ‘to work for the customers best interests’. Proving that in a government decision would be difficult so perhaps any legislation would be symbolic (shambolic?) in practice - yet more than we have.
(Even if you could ever get a government to legislate that, which is clearly against the government’s own interests) … then fines would become part of the “cost of doing business” and hence would be reflected in ministerial salaries. So really just punishing the taxpayer.
Nah. It is quite common for a company to explicitly indemnify company directors and indeed other officeholders, and employees (except in certain obvious cases like a director defrauding the company). That’s over and above whether a third party would be prepared to insure the risk.
But, OK, if you could ever get a government to legislate this, you could also in theory make it illegal to indemnify or insure. Then it would come down to ministerial salaries.
Also, because of the rather dubious provision in Section 44 of the Constitution that precludes a bankrupt from sitting in parliament, my comments above about removal from parliament as the penalty also apply here. (Bankrupting people to get them out of parliament is the sort of thing that happens in other countries and is not something that I would like to import.)
In principle the best interests of the people are supposedly being served by those chosen to be representative. It seems a slippery slope if we suggest that having made our choice of member once every 3 or 4 years, someone who is not us may still decide we made a poor choice. Likely to be divided more often than not along ideological divides.
It will be a significant response if the government as a first step can deliver a meaningful Federal ICAC/CMC.
Not sure precisely what you are referring to but I’m sure you are right. It undoubtedly would be ideological and weaponised - with one side pushing for “severe penalties” and the other side minimising it, with their supporters in the media, and their supporters in the voting public, lining up on side.
That is a cost of doing business that you don’t measure in dollars.
We are but pawns used to feed the sharks unless there is a will that becomes a way, and the way holds those who lack honesty and integrity at bay. Even with Tweedledee and Tweedledum ‘following each other around’ one side seems overweighted for its lack of respect and operates with seeming impunity.
Our score in 2012 would put us in today’s equal fourth with rising star Norway, Singapore and Sweden. Instead we are equal eighteenth. That is incredibly sad. (Actually, quite a few countries’ scores on that measure have dipped in recent years - but most of them have started to recover - unlike Australia.)
Hi all, as this topic was getting fairly long, we decided to start a new one to capture all general scam avoidance news and conversation over here. We also welcome new individual topics posted into our scams category.
Thanks for your discussions so far, please keep them coming!