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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Making the System Fair

The Howard Government will continue to make sure welfare payments go to those most in need, by introducing a number of Budget measures which will save Australian taxpayers more than $540 million over the next five years.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today said the measures continued the Government’s responsible management of the social security system by helping to ensure people received their correct entitlement.

“One change will mean that over 135,000 Australian pensioners who also receive a pension from another country will have their payments automatically adjusted.

“The 2005-06 Budget measure will initially involve people receiving an Italian pension, with Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain following in the near future.

“The measure means that when a person’s overseas pension rate changes, their Australian pension will be automatically reassessed, reducing the risk of receiving an incorrect payment.

The Budget also contains measures that will result in welfare payments being better targeted, they include:

  • Centrelink and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) comparing existing information and exchanging new claim data on a daily basis to ensure people do not receive an income support payment from both Centrelink and DVA;
  • Continuing data-matching between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office for a further four years; and
  • Introducing a series of pilot projects to research ways to improve control of incorrect payments and fraudulent claims, for example, crosschecking information between state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages with Centrelink and DVA.

Senator Patterson said the Government had worked hard to make the welfare system strong and fair, with an emphasis on making sure taxpayers’ money only goes to those in genuine need.

“The Howard Government has an outstanding record in reducing the instance of fraudulent and incorrect payments. This Budget proves the Government will not rest on its laurels and will continue to support successful measures, and introduce new ones, to further strengthen and make sure the social security system is sustainable in the long term,” Senator Patterson said.