The Westminster Tradition

The Westminster Tradition

Unpacking lessons for the public service, starting with the Robodebt Royal Commission.
In 2019, after three years, Robodebt was found to be unlawful. The Royal Commission process found it was also immoral and wildly inaccurate.
Ultimately the Australian Government was forced to pay $1.8bn back to more than 470,000 Australians.
In this podcast we dive deep into public policy failures like Robodebt and the British Post Office scandal - how they start, why they're hard to stop, and the public service lessons we shouldn't forget.
read less
GovernmentGovernment

Episodes

'Do it now, get it right later': payment (in)accuracy in Centrelink - setting the stage for Robodebt
19-03-2024
'Do it now, get it right later': payment (in)accuracy in Centrelink - setting the stage for Robodebt
Centrelink is not alone in having a push and pull between the investment required to get it right up front, versus the convenience of fixing things up later.We discuss the old chestnut 'fast, cheap, good - pick two' , and the less obvious costs of running lean - whether in pandemic preparedness, strategic policy capacity, workforce burnout.Finally, Danielle proposes an end to end definition of efficiency, that captures costs we move to other parts of government, or end up paying later on.ANAO Report on Accuracy and Timeliness of Welfare Payments (2023)The UK Covid Inquiry PodcastIntro grab from Sue Vardon AO Bonus Episode.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Mr Bates v Post Office part 4 - the roll out of Horizon
04-03-2024
Mr Bates v Post Office part 4 - the roll out of Horizon
If you knew your IT system was unreliable, wouldn't you keep some manual checks to make sure it doesn't go wrong? Not if you're Post Office, and desperately looking for savings. Especially if you've just lost your biggest revenue source, in the form of the Benefits Agency and the cash in the tills it provides.In the final episode of our first (but not last!) mini-series on the Post Office scandal, we examine how the Post Office 'forgot' what it knew about Horizon's unreliability, and then removed key guard rails that might have prevented false prosecutions.Opening grab from Mr Stevens KC (Counsel Assisting the Inquiry) and Kathryn Parker (former Post Office training), 13 January 2023.Subsequent grab from Mr Beer KC (Counsel Assisting) and Susan Harding (former Post office Business Process Architect), 22 February 2023.For thorough and detailed coverage of the Post Office Scandal, start with the reporting of Nick Wallis, including his BBC podcast, the Great Post Office Trial.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Mr Bates v Post Office part 3 - accepting a lemon
19-02-2024
Mr Bates v Post Office part 3 - accepting a lemon
Despite hundreds of technical issues and continuing delays in meeting quality requirements, in January 2000, Post Office Board accepted the Horizon IT system as its own.In this episode, we discuss how hard it is to say 'stop' in the middle of a game of whack-a-mole of problem fixing, especially when there are institutional incentives to keep going. We also have strong feelings about the idea of 'minimum viable products' where the delivery of social services - and the founding of prosecutions - are concerned.Opening grab from Mr Stevens KC (Counsel Assisting the Inquiry) and Stuart Sweetman (former Managing Director of Post Office Counters Limited), 17 November 2022.Subsequent grab from Mr Jeremy Folkes (former Infrastructure Assurance Team Leader, Horizon Programme, Post Office Counters Ltd) and Mr Beer KC (Counsel Assisting),  17 November 2022.For thorough and detailed coverage of the Post Office Scandal, start with the reporting of Nick Wallis, including his BBC podcast, the Great Post Office Trial.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Mr Bates v Post Office part 2 - a very poor procurement
06-02-2024
Mr Bates v Post Office part 2 - a very poor procurement
Why was the Post Office's Horizon IT system so error ridden in the first place?And is the false conviction of nearly 1000 postmasters really Tony Blair's fault in the end? (Spoiler alert: probably not.)In this episode, Caroline takes us through why Horizon was probably doomed from the start, with Post Office and the Benefits Agency shackled together to buy an ICT system through an elaborately structured, too clever by half Private Finance Initiative (PFI).Among other things, we talk about the role of first ministers and Cabinet in resolving disagreements between portfolios with genuinely different interests; the impossibility of outsourcing political risk; and the challenge of working out the truth when everyone you speak to has an agenda.Harriet Harman, Minister for Social Services, February 2018 letter to PM Blair can be found here.Geoff Mulgan's December 2018 minute to PM Blair can be found here, and his reflections after appearing at the Inquiry can be found on his blog here.Opening grab from Lord Alistair Darling, former Chief Secretary of Treasury, 29 November 2022. Subsequent grab from Sir Geoffrey Mulgan, former civil servant No. 10 Downing St, 2 December 2022.For thorough and detailed coverage of the Post Office Scandal, start with the reporting of Nick Wallis, including his BBC podcast, the Great Post Office Trial.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Mr Bates v Post Office - shades of Robodebt?
24-01-2024
Mr Bates v Post Office - shades of Robodebt?
Season 2 kicks off with a deeper look at the British Post Office fiasco.Gaslighting critics, false confessions, aggressive litigation tactics, challenges with redress, and no accountability from senior leaders - sound familiar?Nick Wallis BBC4 podcast The Great Post Office TrialAlison's recommended listening re psychological safety, Adam Grant's Think AgainOn the 'objective review' conducted by the Post Office in 2010 to make the strongest case as to why Horizon should be trusted, see, Nick Wallis Rod Ismay: The Useful IdiotTony Moore 'Sorry' not such a hard work for Peter Beattie to say  Sylvan Baker, Mr Bates vs The Post Office: why docudramas have the power to inspire real social and political changeChannel 7 has secured the Australian rights to Mr Bates v Post Office.Intro grab features Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of Post Office, appearing before a Parliamentary Select Committee in 2015.Outro grab features Peter Beattie apologising for excluding athletes from the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in 2018.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Bonus episode: Sue Vardon AO - inaugural CE of Centrelink (1997-2004)
26-12-2023
Bonus episode: Sue Vardon AO - inaugural CE of Centrelink (1997-2004)
In this special holiday bonus, inaugural CE of Centrelink Sue Vardon AO joins Danielle and Caroline to talk through her submission to the Robodebt Royal Commission. Her submission outlines the changes in Centrelink that made Robodebt possible - as well as the things that have stayed the same.She also takes us through her career, from being the only social worker in Wagga Wagga through to leading the establishment of Centrelink.Along the way, she covers the difference between being a 'customer' and a 'recipient', the snap back of bureaucratic and hierarchical cultures, the value of operational experience and much more.Grab at around 1 hr 6 min is Commissioner Holmes and Kathryn Campbell AO CSC and Bar, November 11 2022.This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.Sue Vardon AO has 23 years of experience as a public sector Chief Executive, including CE of the Office of Public Sector Reform, the Public Service Commissioner and the CE of the Department for Correctional Services in South Australia. She was inaugural CE of Centrelink in 1997, a position she held until 2004.  She finished her full-time public service career as CE of the South Australian Department for Families and Communities. She was the first Telstra Businesswoman of the Year.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
16. Taking responsibility - lessons from Robodebt
30-11-2023
16. Taking responsibility - lessons from Robodebt
Much of the evidence heard by the Royal Commission was from people who didn't know what was happening - either because they were too junior to have all the information, or, if they were senior, too busy to have stopped and asked the question.Provoked by Dr Darren O'Donovan, in this episode we unpack practical steps that create organisations that can't look away.The discussion covers- capturing the right data, and sharing it routinely and publicly- risk as a frame for empowering people to push unwelcome information up- the challenges with record keeping for institutional continuity, including the lost art of capturing decisions Referenced in the episode:- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, on building safety culture- The Squid Hunter by David Grann (Alison's giant squid article)Intro and further grabs from our special bonus episode interview with Dr Darren O'Donovan, Senior Lecturer at La Trobe Law School. Later grabs from: Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM and Commissioner Catherine Holmes, 10 November 2022, and Ms Serena Wilson and Mr Justin Greggery KC, 9 November 2022.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Bonus Episode: Dr Darren O'Donovon on centering the victims of Robodebt, the fragmentation of knowledge and accountability, and the creation of moral discomfort
15-11-2023
Bonus Episode: Dr Darren O'Donovon on centering the victims of Robodebt, the fragmentation of knowledge and accountability, and the creation of moral discomfort
In this in-depth and wide-ranging interview,  Dr Darren O'Donovan, Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University Law School, reflects on what it was like being on the outside looking in at Robodebt. *This  was recorded before the release of the Government's response to the Royal Commission.*Some references from the interview include:Frank Kafka Before the LawPamela Herd and Donald Moynihan Administrative Burden: Policymaking by other means (2019)Homi Bhabha The Other Question: Stereotype, discrimination and the discourse of colonialism (2001)Evidence from Michael Kerr-Brown re ATO being well positioned to push back against the DHS request, transcript from 12 December 2022 p. 1615Nick Gill, Nothing Personal? Geographies of Governing and Activism in the British Asylum System (2015)Darren O'Donovan  Victims now know they were right about robodebt all along at The ConversationGrabs included are:Angus Scott KC, Louise Macleod (Ombudsman) and Commissioner Holmes, 8 MarchJason McNamara (DHS) and Angus Scott KC, 5 December 2022Commissioner Holmes and Michael Kerr-Brown (ATO), 12 December 2022Tim Ffrench (DHS), 22 February 2022Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
15. Behavioural insights in Robodebt: at last, an argument!
08-11-2023
15. Behavioural insights in Robodebt: at last, an argument!
In this episode, Danielle and Alison bring the conflict on their views of behavioural insights. Danielle thinks it's a revelation that government started thinking about its customers and what works for them. Alison thinks it's oversold, and not always deployed in the interests of the people. Caroline wonders if we can all just get along.Ultimately, the listeners win.References from the episode include:If Books Could Kill podcast on NudgeRichard Thaler and Cass Sunstein Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness (2009).On the replicability crisis in behavioural economics, see Gideon Lewis-Kraus 'They studied dishonesty. Was their work a lie?' New Yorker. The intro grab features Jason McNamara (DHS) and Angus Scott KC, 5 December 2022Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
14. The Grinch that stole Christmas
16-10-2023
14. The Grinch that stole Christmas
Christmas leave plays an outsize role in Robodebt. Danielle takes us through some of the questions raised about Christmas leave, including who holds the can when people are on leave, and how 'hovering' while you're on leave can confuse and disempower. She also makes a case that government should never, ever shut down over Christmas, because our work never ends.Meanwhile, Alison gives another excellent life hack - this time about taking work emails off your phone on leave.As promised in the episode, here is Commissioner Holmes' finding about what happened to the requested legal advice: "The Commission finds that Ms Campbell instructed DHS officers to cease the process of responding to Mr Jackson’s request for advice, motivated by a concern that the unlawfulness of the Scheme might be exposed to the Ombudsman in the course of its investigation." (see page 189)This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.Intro grab features Commissioner Holmes and Ms Annette Musolino, 30 January 2023. Later grab features Mr Derek Greggery KC and Ms Kathryn Campbell, 7 March 2023.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
13. Pink Batts and Robodebt - lessons not learned
09-10-2023
13. Pink Batts and Robodebt - lessons not learned
In September 2014, at the very moment DHS invents Robodebt, the APS receives a frank assessment of its limitations in the form of the Final Report Home Insulation Program Royal Commission.In this episode, a review of the 'pink batts' Royal Commission report shows the key failings that recur.Why is it so hard as a public servant to say 'we can't do this in the time allowed?'How should generalists respond when asked to engage in technical subject matter that we don't understand?And once again, how do we ensure collegiality doesn't lead to group think and unwillingness to raise risks?You can find the Final Report of the Home Insulation Program Royal Commission here, and the comments about public servant testimony on page 13. This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.Intro grab features Mr Chris Birrer and Commissioner Catherine Holmes, 7 November 2023. Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
12. Robodebt as algorithm (part 3) - Jurassic Park ICT and AI
04-09-2023
12. Robodebt as algorithm (part 3) - Jurassic Park ICT and AI
In our final episode on the algorithmic nature of Robodebt, we tackle the implications of  algorithms being commercial in confidence property of third party providers, legacy ICT systems, plus recognise we need to lean in to understanding AI and how it works.We do a second mini-dive into the Great British Post Office scandal - this time into the systemic racism that underpinned its operation. We finish up by thinking about how AI black box decision making may interact with a historic trend of government interventions that focus on individual entitlement, rather than community needs.You can find more information about the legal landscape of automated decision making in Anna Huggins (2021) "Addressing Disconnection: Automated decision-making, administrative law and regulatory reform".This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.*The intro grab this week is an AI called Russell reading  an extract from Minister Shorten's 25 July 2023 speech at the AFR Government Summit. While an AI voice is on theme, if anyone has access to an actual recording of the speech, we will happily put that up instead. Just email us.*Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
11. Robodebt as algorithm (part 2) - random number generator decision-making
22-08-2023
11. Robodebt as algorithm (part 2) - random number generator decision-making
How will automation impact the ability of people to seek review of administrative decisions by government agencies?  In this episode, we talk about the human bias toward thinking computers are right, and take a brief digression into another public service scandal - The Great Post Office Trial - where discrepancies on a computer screen were used as proof to send people to jail. You can find Alison's homework reading by former Chief Justice French here. This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be. Intro grab features Robodebt victim, Rosemary Gay, and Counsel Assisting Douglas Freeburn.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
10. Robodebt as algorithm (part 1) - junk data and Swiss cheese
05-08-2023
10. Robodebt as algorithm (part 1) - junk data and Swiss cheese
The first of a number of episodes on the algorithmic nature of Robodebt.This episode focuses on big data in government - what we know about it, the ways in which data can be hard to use, and the supreme importance of context. Danielle talks about disappearing from a government system, and Alison gives an important life hack to all double-barrelled surname holders.You can find a link to the Professor Darren O’Donovan article mentioned up front here. This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.Intro grab features Dr Elea Wurth and Commissioner Holmes, 8 March 2023.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
9. Why is it hard to hear whistleblowers? The lessons from Robodebt
04-08-2023
9. Why is it hard to hear whistleblowers? The lessons from Robodebt
Why can it be hard to hear whistleblowers in big organisations? Caroline takes us through Kathryn Campbell's response to whistleblowers that come in via the media and come in via the union, and thinks there's something in that. Alison thinks it's a failure of change management - but is stuck on finding words to describe that aren't "waffle cloud".Danielle finally gets to ask 'what would Colleen do?' - but we all agree it takes a person of rare temperament to be as graceful as Colleen Taylor in blowing the whistle.You can find the anonymous letter from the whistleblower to GetUp! here.This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.Intro grab features Ms Colleen Taylor, and Counsel Assisting Mr Scott, 13 December 2022.Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
Bonus Episode: The Robodebt Report is out - early thoughts and reflections
13-07-2023
Bonus Episode: The Robodebt Report is out - early thoughts and reflections
In this special episode, Caroline and Danielle unpack their feelings about the Royal Commission Report, five days after its release. We also pick through some of the Commissioner's key findings, as they relate to things discussed in previous episodes. If you are new to the podcast, we suggest you start at the beginning and come to this after you've listened for a bit.You can find Rick Morton's podcast here, and his books On Money and 100 Years of Dirt.Intro grab features Ms Colleen Taylor, 13 December 2022Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
8. Advice is just advice - what the lawyers knew about Robodebt
01-07-2023
8. Advice is just advice - what the lawyers knew about Robodebt
In this episode, Caroline takes us through the many different ways in which lawyers in the Commonwealth Government knew that Robodebt was illegal well before the Federal Court settlement in late 2019. You might not remember who wrote the constitutional law text book, but you would remember going to a conference where an eminent KC dismantles your program point by point.  Danielle's deep loathing of ritual data collection proves sensible when we discuss the work that DHS lawyers did in reviewing AAT decisions. Meanwhile, Alison's blood boils as we hear 'advice is just advice', and we learn how the Government was in possession of legal advice declaring Robodebt unlawful from mid 2018 and did nothing. This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be. Intro grab features Ms Annette Musolino, 1 March 2023 Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!
7. 'A bit of a fixer-upper' - DHS and the botched launch of Robodebt
01-07-2023
7. 'A bit of a fixer-upper' - DHS and the botched launch of Robodebt
In this episode, Caroline takes us through how DHS responds in early 2017 when things start hitting the fan. Aggressive defence is the name of game in the media, while in the background frantic efforts are made to improve 'the customer interface'. We talk about how DHS backed themselves into a corner, and despite a lot of senior attention to solve problems,  never picked up the rock to check what was underneath.We also talk about how hard it is to fix something while it's operating. We finish by discussing the importance of departments maintaining relationships with stakeholders irrespective of the flavour of the government of the day. This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be. Intro grab features Ms Tenille Collins and Commissioner Catherine Holmes, 3 March 2023 Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music. 'Til next time!