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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1664

(Question No. 5032)


Mr Moore asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) How many persons in the Electoral Division of Ryan have been detected by his Department's crackdown on social security fraud.

(2) What sum was defrauded by those persons.

(3) What sum has the crackdown cost the Government since its inception.

(4) Will those persons who have been detected be prosecuted.


Mr Howe —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The Department of Social Security is divided into administrative units which generally do not correspond to Electoral Divisions. Accordingly it is not possible to provide the statistics requested.

(3) My Department has introduced a wide range of legislative and administrative changes to improve the integrity of the social security system.

While some of these measures have largely involved a restructuring of existing procedures, other have involved additional staff and associated costs.

Special teams which are reviewing whether clients are making reasonable efforts to obtain work involve an estimated annual cost of $2.9m.

It is not possible, however, to isolate the cost of the entire range of measures which include:

improved procedures for proof of identity;

personal lodgment of unemployment benefit forms;

the regular lodgment of forms by sole parent clients setting out their correct circumstances; and

interviews of sole parent clients three months after grant of assistance.

(4) All cases of misrepresentation are considered for prosecution by my Department. In a similar way those investigated by the Australian Federal Police are considered by them. Where it is considered that there is a prima facie case to answer, that the evidence available suggests prosecution would succeed and there are no persuasive mitigating circumstances, the case would be forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with a recommendation that prosecution proceed. Whether or not prosecution proceeds is determined by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.