Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Cracking down on wealthy welfare cheats

Minister for Community Service Larry Anthony has announced a pilot program that will identify rich welfare cheats who are double dipping.

The program starts on September 1, and will see Centrelink match its data with the Australian Securities Investment Commission and the Australian Taxation Office.

“By comparing this data, the Government will identify those who receive payments and have holdings in unlisted public and private companies,” said Mr Anthony.

“These people have previously gone undetected, reaping welfare benefits while earning income and tax breaks through their unlisted companies.

“It is anticipated that once the pilot becomes a national program up to $140 million will be saved from the welfare budget by the year 2003-4,” said Mr Anthony.

“Australians have the highest level of share ownership and are increasingly using unlisted companies as a means of minimising tax or hiding their income.

“By minimising or hiding their income, some people have been able to have holdings in companies that own shares and rental properties as well as collect income support payments.

“The Government has become increasingly concerned about the possibility of people hiding redundancy payments or investment properties in such unlisted companies and then claiming Newstart allowances or part pensions.

“This Government is committed to helping those Australians in need, however we are not going to let the well-off defraud taxpayers,” said Mr Anthony.