Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Howard Government welfare compliance measures working

Thousands of Australians are dobbing in people who are ripping off the welfare system.

In the last financial year, the Department of Family and Community Services investigated 72,295 tip-offs, an increase of 23% on 2002-03 figures.

After investigating the tip-offs, the department found 12,941 people were incorrectly receiving a benefit, worth a total of $38.7 million. In addition, tip-offs to the department concerning those who were overpaid some benefit saved taxpayers another $156 million.

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson said Australians were showing they were not prepared to turn a blind eye.

‘It highlights the fact that Australians are not prepared to see people taking advantage of the system and receiving benefits to which they are not entitled. They are not prepared to work hard, pay their taxes and then sit back and watch people rort the system,’ Senator Patterson said.

The Howard Government is committed to improving levels of compliance and in the 2004-05 Budget announced the Keeping the System Fair campaign, expected to result in net savings to taxpayers of around $214.9 million over four years.

Senator Patterson said recent statements by Simon Crean proved Labor could not be trusted to run the welfare system, let alone the economy.

‘In a speech to Australian Business Economists in Sydney (24/08/04) Mr Crean claimed there had been a 17% increase in the number of people on welfare since 1996. Mr Crean is wrong. There has been a 4.7% decrease in the number of working aged welfare recipients under the Howard Government.

‘Labor simply cannot be trusted to manage the welfare system which makes up a large part of the economy.

‘Unlike Labor that presided over record fraud and non-compliance, the Howard Government is responsibly managing taxpayer funds to ensure they are spent on improved services rather than welfare fraud,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The Howard Government is ensuring it is not wasting millions of dollars on welfare cheats or people who can’t be bothered telling Centrelink about changes in their financial circumstances. We are committed to making sure that social security payments are targetted to those most in need and that recipients are paid their correct entitlement, ‘Senator Patterson said.