Oh Thank God, Labor Is Actually Going to Audit myGov

Oh Thank God, Labor Is Actually Going to Audit myGov
Image: Gizmodo Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s new ministry is moving ahead with at least one pre-election promise. His party is going to conduct an audit of the Australian government’s online portal, myGov.

Prior to the election, Labor said if it were successful, myGov would undergo an audit. The user audit, Albanese said previously, would take a “fresh look at how well myGov is performing when it comes to reliability and functionality for a user-friendly experience”.

At the time, Labor said there had just been “too many crashes and outages”, pointing to that time former Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert thought myGov had been DDoS’d. (There was just a lot of people checking to see if they qualified for COVID relief, btw.)

But as per a report from The Sydney Morning Herald, the audit is actually going ahead. The new minister who has absorbed the issue-plagued myGov, Bill Shorten, said he wants to turn using myGov from an often-frustrating experience into a seamless one. Amen.

In case you’re unfamiliar, myGov was meant to be an easy, and secure, way to access services online with one login and one password.

Currently, users can link Australian JobSearch, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Centrelink, Child Support, Department of Health Applications Portal, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, HousingVic Online Services, Medicare, My Aged Care, National Disability Insurance Scheme, National Redress Scheme, State Revenue Office Victoria and My Health Record services to their myGov.

“They’ve created digital workhouses, basically. You know, workhouses were a 19th century place where the kind-hearted burghers of Victorian England and Australia said, ‘Well, if we’ve got to pay you for three meals a day, you can go and work in a workhouse,’” Shorten said of the myGov audit, according to the report.

“And I think that we’ve used, in some cases, digital technology to create two classes of Australians.

“We haven’t privatised the service. We just privatise your time. You spend hours on it. I’m amazed there’s not more rage out there.”

Also a priority for Shorten is a Royal Commission into the Centrelink automated compliance scheme, colloquially known as robo-debt. Labor has been long advocating for the shuttering of this program. In May 2020, the federal government conceded its data-matching Online Compliance Intervention (OCI) initiative (what we know as robo-debt), got around 470,000 “debts” wrong.

A Royal Commission was actually something the Australian Greens asked for first. It’s good to see Labor listening to the concerns of the party that so many Australians voted for.