Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Queensland raid catches welfare fraudsters

Nine Newstart payments were cancelled and 151 customers will have their payments reviewed, in a crackdown on welfare fraud in Stanthorpe, Queensland, today.

A joint operation was conducted this morning with the Queensland Police Service, Centrelink and the Department of Immigration.

The operation was designed to target people with outstanding arrest warrants, visa condition breaches and welfare fraudsters. Good results were achieved in all areas.

Road blocks on all the major roads leading to the harvesting area of Stanthorpe were set up early this morning. The region produces a range of fruit crops including peaches, apricots, nectarines and grapes.

People travelling in cars were asked to provide identification to the police officers.

Many of these people had not told Centrelink that they were working and earning extra income while on unemployment benefits. They will be required to pay back any entitlements they were not eligible for and could be prosecuted. Seventeen debts were also identified for recovery action.

Centrelink is also expecting to cancel payments and raise debts in many more cases – 151 people’s employment records are now being reviewed and they will be subject to further investigation.

This Government is serious about catching welfare cheats.

Welfare cheats steal money that could be used to help the more vulnerable in our community.

While the vast majority of Centrelink’s customers are honest, the message is clear: if you cheat the system you will be caught.