Robodebt: Campbell quits $900k top defence job

In response to the findings of the robodebt royal investigation, former senior public servant Kathryn Campbell has resigned from her post at the Department of Defence, where she was making $900,000 per year.

The department released the announcement on Monday afternoon and read as follows: “Defence can confirm it has accepted Kathryn Campbell’s resignation from the department with effect from Friday, July 21, 2023.”

The department stated that it would “not provide any further comment on this matter.”

The report from the royal commission into the robodebt issue was released a few days ago, and it was confirmed that Campbell had been suspended from her senior advisory post at Aukus without pay as a result of the investigation.

The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, stated on Thursday that he would not “comment on individual cases in detail” since there are “processes in place” in the government.

However, he stated that the findings of the royal inquiry were “very clear about failings” in the previous government and the bureaucracy that surrounded the implementation of the robodebt program.

Albanese stated that it was necessary for there to be a reaction to what had been said.

Campbell was moved out of her then function as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and into a newly created position related to Aukus in the senior echelons of the Defense Department not long after the election that took place the year before.

The previous year, Guardian Australia published an article that revealed Campbell had maintained the employment terms and conditions from her prior post as Dfat secretary, in which she received a total yearly salary package of $889,853. This comprised a base income of $767,529 as well as retirement benefits totaling $102,635.

On Monday, July 10, Campbell was placed on administrative leave without pay, which took effect three days after the report from the royal commission was made public.

Because Campbell has decided to quit, it is likely that she will be compensated for any vacation time that she has not utilized.

However, in accordance with the code of conduct for the Australian public service, a resignation does not always put an end to any potential inquiries.

In most cases, the rules of an agency specify that the head of the agency has the discretion to decide whether or not to continue the process of determining whether or not a violation of the code has occurred in the event that an employee resigns in the midst of such an investigation.

The government was requested to provide additional comment.

Tim Ayres, who serves as an assistant minister for trade, stated that the government has made every effort to adhere to the “proper processes.”

Ayres stated that the government has established the Royal Commission into Robodebt to “ensure that we get to the bottom of what has happened here.”

During an interview with the media, he described the robodebt program as “a cruel, illegal, and unfair process that has demonized some of the most vulnerable Australians and put people in a terrible position.”

According to the findings from the royal commission, Campbell, who formerly served as head of the Department of Human Services, was “responsible for a department that had established, implemented, and maintained an unlawful program.”

The report stated that Campbell “failed to act” when offered with opportunity to acquire legal assistance and “did nothing of substance” when confronted with material that brought to light the illegality of income averaging.

In the wake of the revelations presented in the robodebt report, a number of independent members of parliament had urged Campbell to give some thought to her political future, while the government came under increasing amounts of pressure to take action.

According to findings of royal commission report, Campbell was aware of the planned application of income averaging in the robodebt program as well as the recommendation from the Department of Social Services that legislative reform was required; despite this knowledge, Campbell did not alter the policy proposal that was presented to the government.

It was discovered that she did so because she was aware that Scott Morrison wanted to “pursue the proposal and that the government could not achieve the savings” without income averaging.

Campbell has not reacted to demands for comment made by the media following the release of the royal commission report. However, throughout the proceedings, Campbell defended her handling of the situation and stated that she had assumed the program was legal despite prior advice raising severe problems.

During the course of the inquiry that was being conducted by the royal commission, Campbell stated, “I have never been in a department that sought to mislead.” In addition, I have never been a part of a plan that was intended to give the government false information.

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