Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

AFP and Centrelink boost joint fight against welfare fraud

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon. Christoper Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs

 The number of Australian Federal Police (AFP) Agents helping to detect and investigate social security fraud will more than double over the next year under an agreement signed in Canberra today between the AFP and Centrelink.

A Memorandum of Understanding enabling an expansion in the number of outposted Federal Agents from four to ten across Australia was signed by the AFP Commissioner, Mick Keelty and Centrelink Acting CEO Paul Hickey in a ceremony attended by Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony MP.

As techniques to perpetrate fraud against the social security system are becoming more and more sophisticated, the AFP and Centrelink are working more closely together to put law enforcement one step ahead of criminals trying to defraud the system.

The AFP have already helped Centrelink in the detection and investigation of social security fraud, and the will build on the success of this joint partnership with this substantial increase in resources.

This agreement provides for enhanced on-the-job training for Centrelink investigators by the AFP, and will enable greater efficiency in the preparation and execution of search warrants. It will also improve the provision and timeliness of pre-referral advice and assist in the identification of key targets through the gathering of intelligence data.

It also sets out arrangements in relation to administrative, financial, professional standards, human resources and health and safety issues.

The 2003/04 Budget included a range of strategies to enhance Centrelink’s ability to detect and investigate social security fraud, including an increase in the number of AFP agents outposted to Centrelink’s fraud investigation teams.

The measures are expected to result in 1,200 additional investigations in 2003-04, increasing to 3,000 by 2006-07 with projected net savings over four years of $60.1 million.

The agreement signed today follows another MOU signed earlier this year between Centrelink and the national financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC which increased the Government’s clout against high-end welfare cheats.

Australia has a generous welfare system and the Government recognises that most people are honest.

However, there are always some people who take more than their share. Australian taxpayers can rest assured that Centrelink and the AFP are making sure people are only paid their correct entitlement – no more, no less.