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Government keeps education fraud report under wraps

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IGOVERNMENT KEEPS EDUCATION FRAUD REPORT UNDER WRAPS The Department of Employment, Education and Training is refusing to release a two volume report from Price Waterhouse which deals with fraud against the Department and which proposes a survey to quantify

the level of fraud.

The existence of the report came to light this week as a result of an appeal lodged by Shadow Attorney-General Peter Reith against the Department's refusal to provide him with documents under the Freedon of Information Act.

Mr Reith said that the consultants had outlined a survey to estimate fraud against the Department but it had been deferred since Septembe "to avoid coinciding with the peak work load normally experienced b^ regional offices in gearing up for the lodgment and processing of applications".

Mr Reith has also been told that not all of the material could be made available to him because "... the deleted material, if publicly known, could assist unscrupulous people to obtain benefits fraudulently".

There have been a number of reports to the Government on fraud and in fact one was so hot it was shredded. In the 1987 election campaign the Government refused to produce any of the reports and refused the Opposition a briefing on the subject. Other FOI applications have been given the run-around.

The review of systems dealing with fraud on the Commonwealth which was released last September failed to provide any estimate of fraud against the Commonwealth and raised more questions than it answered.

The Government is obviously anxious to keep as much information under: wraps as possible. The revelation that a firm of outside consultants has prepared a two volume report which has so far been kept secret, is yet another indication that the Government

is covering up on the extent of the fraud.

The Education Department programmes are but a small part of the fraud issue and the Government's refusal to release documents is an indication of the extent of the problems.

Mr Reith said that his appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal would commence before a Deputy President of the A.A.T. on 1 March 1988 COMMONW EALTH


13 January 1988

1 Contact: Peter Reith, M.P. Tel. (059) 79 3188 2/88