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Tuesday, 17 November 2020 11:22

Robodebt: Stuart Robert does not even have the decency to blush

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Robodebt: Stuart Robert does not even have the decency to blush Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Australian Government has cheerfully forked out $1.2 billion of those green notes to settle a lawsuit in the robodebt case. I think it's a good moment to stop and consider whether some ministers should be told, in strict terms, to avoid taking any initiatives that involve technology.

No matter what the Coalition touches, — remember that good old network, the NBN, and its $29 billion bill as projected by Malcolm Turnbull? — if it involves technology, it just crashes and burns.

You can see the fingers of Stuart Robert, the man who paid that impressive Internet bill some time ago, Alan Tudge, who was recently accused by a judge of indulging in criminal conduct, and Christian Porter, the man who was the star act on Four Corners last week in connection with his alleged philandering, all over this debt saga.

It is passing strange that after all these years of being around technology — Australia, I am reliably told, connected to the Internet in 1989 — these fine samples of humanity have little idea of what you can achieve with tech.

The old rule of garbage in, garbage out was apparently not taught to them. We need qualifications for everything in Australia, even to be an apprentice, but you can be the village idiot and still become a minister.

That the three will not face any blowback is obvious as their protector, Scotty from Marketing, will talk the hind leg off a donkey to prevent any mention of actual penalties being levied on these nincompoops.

As one erudite Australian was pointing out on ABC 774 this morning, Morrison was very quick to castigate Christine Holgate for spending $20,000 on some Cartier watches and even named her in Parliament, forcing the poor woman to quit her job.

But here's merry old Robert wallowing in waste to the tune of a cool billion and there's not a sound from Scott. Sorry, there is one, it's the sound of silence. Pity Simon and Garfunkel ain't around to put this episode to music.

In government circles, competence is ranked about the lowest attribute that will land you a cabinet post. Dumb loyalty? That comes top of the lot. And yet we poke fun at countries like Iraq and Zimbabwe where despots demand the same kind of loyalty from their followers.

One would think that Robert would be skulking around in the shadows after what any blue-blooded American would describe as a glorious clusterf***.

But no, the man was out and about this morning, actually defending what he had done!

When you get to that stage, I tend to think that even sinking a pin into the fleshiest part of the man's arm would not result in a yelp. The Bible, a book which I'm sure Robert owns and reads, describes this condition as having one's conscience seared as if by iron.

When the government is asked to put some money towards this project or that, all of them for the public good, you can hear squeals of "we don't have the money, we are in a recession, we are deeply in debt, we cannot indulge in waste" and so on, ad infinitum.

But Robert and his ilk can throw good money after bad and I'm pretty sure they will all be there, perhaps in different portfolios, after the December cabinet reshuffle. Who's willing to give me odds on that?

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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