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Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Saving taxpayers $8 million weekly

Taxpayers saved almost $8 million a week as a result of the Government’s crack down on welfare fraud and overpayment, Community Services Minister Larry Anthony said today.

Mr Anthony tabled the half-yearly report on Centrelink’s compliance activity for Family and Community Services covering the six months to 31 December 1999.

“This report illustrates the Government’s commitment to ending fraud and overpayment,” said Mr Anthony.

Between 1 July 1999 and 31 December 1999, there were 1,347 convictions for welfare fraud, involving $11.9 million in debts. 114,523 payments were cancelled or reduced during that period

“The vast majority of people receiving welfare are honest, but there is still a small number of people who cheat their fellow taxpayers,” said Mr Anthony.

“Through programs such as Preparing for Work we are making it easier for people to understand their entitlements and requirements.

“This Government is responsible with taxpayer’s money – we want people to get exactly what they are entitled to, and will work hard to ensure that cheats are caught.”

From 1 July 1999 to 31 December 1999, Centrelink reviewed more than 1.1 million entitlements nation-wide.

“The new joint Centrelink and Australian Tax Office Special Project Officers have extended the amount of information shared by these organisations,” said Mr Anthony.

Reviews from matching ATO Employment Declaration Forms with Centrelink customer data resulted in 16,354 cancellations or reductions to payment. Data-matching ATO income data with customer income statements held on Centrelink’s records identified debts worth $44.4 million.

“We also have the last resort measures such as optical surveillance, where we identified debts and reduced payments in 523 individual cases,” said Mr Anthony.

“The National-Liberal Government is committed to responsibly delivering a stronger, more equitable welfare system where people have faith that they will receive their entitlement.”