Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Centrelink Data-Matching saves taxpayers $139 million

Centrelink’s Data-Matching Program saved Australian taxpayers $139.3 million during the 2002-03 financial year, Minister for Youth and Children’s Affairs, Larry Anthony announced today.

The Data-Matching Program Report on Progress 2002-2003 shows Centrelink reviewed more than 74,000 customers, resulting in more than 36,000 debts being raised and 5,699 payments being cancelled or reduced.

“The Data-Matching Program is designed to detect people receiving incorrect payments from Centrelink by comparing their records with the Australian Taxation Office and Department of Veterans’ Affairs records.

“The Program operates within strict privacy rules to ensure that a customers’ personal information and privacy are protected throughout any investigation.

“This whole-of-government approach to checking customers’ entitlements ensures that only those who are entitled to social security payments receive them.

“Australia has a fair and generous welfare system to give help to those who really need it. The Government has a duty to Australian taxpayers to ensure that Centrelink payments are directed only to those who are eligible and at the right rate. It is important that people get their correct entitlement – not more and not less.

“This report also sends clear warning to those who do the wrong thing that you will be caught by Centrelink’s sophisticated detection methods,” Mr Anthony said.