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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1667

(Question No. 5162)

Dr Watson asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 26 February 1987:

(1) has his attention been drawn to any pensions or benefits being paid directly into the accounts of banks or other financial institutions on behalf of inmates currently serving in Queensland prisons; if so, how many inmates are receiving benefits and for what reasons.

(2) If instances of these payments have not been drawn to his attention is it possible for an inmate to be paid a pension by this method under his or her real or assumed name.

(3) Does the Queensland Department of Justice or any State Government instrumentality advise his Department of admissions and releases from prisons as they occur.

(4) Does his Department liaise with branches of banks and other financial institutions in areas near prisons to ascertain (a) if accounts used for receiving payments of pensions and benefits are being drawn upon or (b) the balances of accounts used for receiving payments of pensions and benefits; if not, would this procedure be invaluable in cutting down on welfare fraud.

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

(1) No.

(2) and (3) When a pension or benefit is claimed strict procedures exist to ensure that the person's true identity is established. Additionally, the Department of Prisons in Queensland provides my Department with details of all persons admitted to or discharged from prison in that State. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a pension or benefit would be paid to a prisoner through the direct crediting of an account with a financial institution.

(4) (a) and (b) Such procedures are not used since existing arrangements to identify persons in prisons are considered to be effective. Moreover, since approximately 94% of all pensions and benefits are paid by the direct credit method the suggested procedure would not be an effective use of resources.