Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Minister Reassures Centrelink Customers about Real Estate Valuations

The Howard Government is always looking to strengthen its compliance processes to ensure that taxpayer funds are managed responsibly. This is in contrast to Labor who presided over record welfare fraud and mismanagement.

In 2002-03 alone the Australian Government, through its compliance and review initiatives, saved taxpayers $44 million per week.

Through its review processes the Government has identified customers in receipt of assistance who may own multiple properties or a second property which is estimated to be valued at more than $1 million in addition to their principle place of residence.

The real estate assets being examined do not include the family home.

Customers who, in addition to their family home, own a property with a predicted value of more than $1 million dollars or who own multiple additional properties will be contacted by Centrelink and asked to update their circumstances.

Because the value of their properties, exclusive of the family home, affects their eligibility for assistance the Government encourages customers to update the value of their property holdings.

Properties that will be reviewed include investment properties, coastal holiday houses, commercial and rural properties.

Taxpayers expect the Government to manage their funds responsibly and target payments to those most in need. That is only fair.

The Howard Government believes it is only fair that customers with assets in addition to their family home, regardless of how they are structured, be it shares, bonds, managed funds or properties, should be treated the same.