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Crackdown on welfare fraud in NT.

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Media Release

Senator The Hon. Grant Tambling

CLP Senator for the Northern Territory


13 October 1999


The Federal Government’s efforts to crack down on welfare fraud and overpayments have resulted in more than 3400 pay ments in the Northern Territory being cancelled or reduced in the 1998/99 financial year, Northern Territory CLP Senator Grant Tambling said today.

Releasing the annual report of Social Security compliance figures for the Northern Territory and centres in Broome, Kununurra and Derby (WA) to December 1998, Senator Tambling said the figures demonstrate that Government compliance efforts are significantly reducing the cost of fraud and overpayments to taxpayers.

"In the last financial year, compliance activity in the Northern Territory has resulted in 3407 payments being reduced or cancelled, saving the taxpayer more than $690,000 each fortnight," said Senator Tambling.

Centrelink meanwhile, is taking steps to recover more than $3.8 million in debts across the region.

Senator Tambling said that the vast majority of social security recipients were honest and were entitled to the payments they received, but there was still a small minority seeking to cheat the Australian taxpayer.

"The Coalition Government is determined to stop those who cheat on their fellow Australians."

As a result of the almost 33,000 reviews conducted in the Territory region throughout the 12 month period, Senator Tambling said that 603 Territorians were discovered to be receiving less than the total benefit to which they were entitled.

At a national level, Centrelink’s compliance activity during the 1998/99 financial year resulted in savings to taxpayers of around $20.9 million a week, with 256,376 payments cancelled or reduced.

"These figures indicate that the Government’s actions on welfare fraud and in maintaining the integrity of the social security system are achieving results," Senator Tambling said.

"The Federal Government has now appointed debt prevention officers to Centrelink offices around Australia to implement a range of local debt prevention initiatives to help people avoid debts.

"In addition, as part of the 1999 Budget, the Government has announced new data-matching measures between Centrelink, the Australian Tax Office and other Federal and State and Territory agencies."

This data-matching involves the use of tax file numbers and placing Centrelink staff in Australian Tax Offices, and is expected to increase the success rate in identifying those who have not declared income.


Media contact: Senator Tambling’s office - 02 6277 3436



jy  1999-12-02  10:39