Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Fraudster’s evasive efforts futile

A Tasmanian man who tried to evade a summons to appear in court by faking a move interstate was sentenced to 10 months jail in the Devonport Magistrates Court today.

The man’s bid to defraud the Commonwealth was thwarted by an anonymous tip-off to Centrelink, who proceeded with a thorough investigation.

Centrelink is to be commended on their diligent pursuit of this fraudster, and I am very pleased the Centrelink staff involved in the case, and Australian taxpayers, can now see justice served.

The court heard that, while receiving the Disability Support Pension, the defendant tried to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $30,000 by failing to advise Centrelink of earnings from paid work over a six year period.

Charged on two counts of fraud, the man pleaded guilty to the first offence, involving a sum of $18,952, but not guilty to a second offence involving $12,087. He was found guilty on both counts, but has appealed the court’s decision on the second charge.

This is an excellent example of the important role the public can play in helping keep the social security system honest. Without the public tip-off, this man may have continued to avoid authorities.

There has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of tip-offs received by Centrelink this year and this is a clear statement that the majority of Australians agree that welfare payments should be preserved for people who are vulnerable and in need.