Robodebt AI

Aussies’ Impression of AI Ruined By Government Scandal

2 min read

This article is for general information purposes only and isn’t intended to be financial product advice. You should always obtain your own independent advice before making any financial decisions. The Chainsaw and its contributors aren’t liable for any decisions based on this content.



Aussies were rightfully whipped into a fury when it came to light the Robodebt scheme – in which many on welfare payments were wrongfully forced to repay debts – was illegal. But despite the many Australians who were wronged, the scheme also influenced the nation’s thoughts on the use of AI.

A report put together for the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet found that the Robodebt scandal had given Aussies a negative view of AI. But the kicker is, AI wasn’t even used for the Robodebt scheme.

What technology did Robodebt use?

Robodebt calculations were completed via algorithmic decision making, or ADB, not AI. But sadly, the report found this distinction would be “irrelevant” to many Aussies.

“The community’s views on public agencies as trustworthy adopters and users of digital technologies, including AI, are likely to be shaped by the impacts of the Robodebt Scheme, and the government’s response to the findings of the Royal Commission report, for the foreseeable future,” the report said.

Does this mean the government won’t ever use the tech?

Nope! The report determined there were plenty of very good reasons for AI to be used in public services, but the Government would need to focus on building trust.

“To build trustworthiness, government agencies need to deliver public services well, by meeting users’ needs and delivering efficient, timely, good quality and reliable services. There are significant opportunities for agencies to use AI to do this,” it said.

So how do they plan to do this? The report said the government should focus on implementing AI with integrity, not come at the expense of empathy, improve performance and support the community to engage with AI.

AI set to contribute $315 billion to Aussie economy

The report said implementing AI into public services would help to drive GDP and change the way Aussies work and live.

“In just five years, AI and its capabilities have undergone a rapid evolution – from experimental applications to AI solutions and applications that are widely adopted and used across society,” the report said. 

“AI is expected to be worth $22.17 trillion to the global economy by 2030. For Australia, digital innovations including AI, could cumulatively contribute $315 billion to the Australian economy by 2030.”