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Robodebt shame finally catches up with department boss and her $900k salary

A senior public servant who oversaw the unlawful robodebt scheme has been stood down from her position at the Department of Defence following the royal commission findings.

Jul 20, 2023, updated Jul 20, 2023
Secretary of the Department of Social Services Kathryn Campbell speaks during Senate Estimates at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, June 3, 2021. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Secretary of the Department of Social Services Kathryn Campbell speaks during Senate Estimates at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, June 3, 2021. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Kathryn Campbell, who was previously the head of the Department of Human Services, has been involuntarily stood down from her advisory role at Defence, AAP has confirmed.

She was suspended without pay from July 10, three days after the royal commission report was tabled.

Ms Campbell was made an adviser on the AUKUS security partnership in June last year, with a salary of $900,000 a year.

She was singled out in the royal commission report into robodebt.

The commission found Ms Campbell gave misleading evidence to cabinet about robodebt but stayed silent because then-minister Scott Morrison wanted to pursue robodebt and the government wouldn’t be able to achieve budget savings without it.

While the commission said she was “likely to mislead because it contained no reference to income averaging or the need for legislative change”, Ms Campbell said it was an “oversight”.

However, the commission said such claims were extraordinary for someone of her experience.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the decision to suspend Ms Campbell was made by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and “appropriate bodies”.

Mr Albanese said the royal commission identified failings within the public service and there was a need to respond.

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“Most people who have a look at the human tragedy that was caused by robodebt and the findings of the royal commission are very, very clear about failings by the Morrison government, and indeed going back to when Scott Morrison was the minister,” he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

Mr Albanese did not say if the suspension would be permanent.

He said the government would respond in an appropriate way to the findings of the royal commission, which were “more damning than anyone was expecting”.

Greens social services spokeswoman Janet Rice said the suspension of Ms Campbell was a welcome step.

“But it shouldn’t end there – all those responsible for this brutal and illegal scheme, including Scott Morrison, must be held to account too,” she said.

“The harm and trauma and deaths could have been avoided if not for the inhumane actions and lack of accountability from former prime minister Morrison on down, including senior departmental officials like Ms Campbell.”

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