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Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Poultry plant swoop plucks 29 undeclared incomes

Today Centrelink cancelled 12 Newstart Allowance payments and a further 17 customers had their welfare entitlements suspended pending investigation following a raid on a poultry plant in South Australia.

The joint operation was headed by Centrelink with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Department of Immigration Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth West.

The operation targeted a poultry plant labour contractor. Evidence of welfare recipients working for undeclared incomes was uncovered, confirming suspicions that people were employed under false names and being paid cash for their services.

A Centrelink investigation, involving optical surveillance, identified the welfare recipients who were believed to be in receipt of undeclared income from poultry plant employment.

As a result, the AFP executed search warrants on a number of premises and conveyances associated with the labour company resulting in the seizure of wage and business records for further scrutiny.

This successful operation will save taxpayers a minimum of $100,000 per year. It is further proof that the Government is serious about catching welfare cheats. It is also an example of the increasing focus on stamping out this activity in all parts of Australia.

Reasonable people recognise that welfare cheats are thieves stealing money that could be used to help the genuinely vulnerable in our community.

There is no doubt that most of Centrelink’s customers are honest and treat the system with integrity. But today’s South Australian operation sends a clear message that Government agencies will leave no stone unturned in catching people who deliberately rip off the system.