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Budget 2003: Ensuring assistance goes to those most in need.

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Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Minister for Family & Community Services

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

Ensuring Assistance Goes To Those Most In Need

13 May 2003

Australia has a generous social security safety net, but taxpayers expect welfare to only go to those people who really need it. With around one third, or around $62.5 billion, of the Federal Government's budget being paid out on welfare, it is critical that support goes to the needy and not the greedy.

The 2003-04 Budget compliance package is expected to save over $534 million over the next 4 years. The package builds on the existing compliance regime that is designed to make life tougher for customers who do not comply with their obligations or are deliberately defrauding taxpayers.

Data-matching is a key part of the compliance strategy. We will build on the success of the data-matching program by extending the 2002-03 pilot. The data-matching criteria will be widened and expanded to take advantage of newly available data sources including Australian Business Numbers, Pay As You Go Payment Summaries, and Job Network placements in casual employment. These measures will result in 168,000 additional reviews per year.

Extra face-to-face reviews will be conducted for Parenting Payment customers who may be at risk of receiving an incorrect payment. The

reviews will identify customers who are at risk of not declaring changes in circumstances. Enhanced risk profiling capability will also be applied to the Age Pension program to improve review arrangements for customers at risk of failing to declare changes in their real estate holdings. These measures will result in 47,000 additional customer reviews per year.

Service Update reviews will be introduced for Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients. Recipients will be selected based on a risk based approach and will be assessed against the current DSP criteria. This new service will provide customers with an opportunity to access information about their correct entitlement and ensure that they are being paid correctly. The introduction of Service Update reviews will see an increase of 61,000 reviews between DSP customers and Centrelink each year. This will take the total number of DSP reviews to 150,000 a year.

There will be an increased focus on identity fraud related investigations. Strategies will be implemented to minimise identity fraud, by increasing use of external and internal data sources. The Australian Federal Police will investigate the more complex cases of identity fraud, while all fraud cases will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for prosecution. This will result in 3,000 additional investigations each year.

Research will also be funded to look at emerging areas of risk, including new identity fraud schemes and the cash economy.

Our compliance regime is deliberately tough on the greedy. We will ensure that payments are properly targeted to those who really need the support of the social security safety net.