Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

ACOSS inadvertently misleads

ACOSS should have checked its figures before making embarrassing claims about increases in breaches in today’s media.

The facts are that on ACOSS’s own estimate of breach numbers for 2001-02, there were one-third fewer breach penalties compared to 2000-01.

ACOSS have estimated that there were 260,000 breach penalties in 2001-02. There were 387,000 breach penalties in 2000-01.

In addition, ACOSS’s claim that the first three months of 2002 saw number of activity test breaches ‘lurch upwards by 50%’ is wrong.

They have made this claim by comparing data obtained by a freedom of information request with an answer to a question on notice.

These figures are not comparable because the information provided to Welfare Rights under FOI was calculated differently to the information provided in the answer to the question on notice.

This just shows again the reason why agencies that are publicly funded to sponsor responsible debate need to check that their information is right.

If they had contacted my office or the Department of Family and Community Services before issuing their media release they would have avoided misleading the public even inadvertently.