Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

Media release: Crackdown on wealthy welfare cheats nets $43 million

16 March 2018

The Hon Michael Keenan MP

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

More than 1,000 wealthy welfare cheats have been caught over-claiming tens of millions in Federal Government benefits during a nationwide crackdown.

A joint operation run by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Australian Transaction Reports Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) targeted welfare recipients who had large amounts of unexplained wealth pass through their bank accounts.

Those unable to explain to DHS where the money had come from or why they had failed to declare it as income were then ordered to repay their benefits, saving Australian taxpayers $43.4 million.

While Bill Shorten and Labor are busy waging war on retirees and pensioners with their vicious tax grab, the Coalition is doing what Labor never did, by going after those who do not deserve our support.

Australia has a very generous welfare system and it needs to operate with integrity to ensure those who genuinely need our support receive it.

We will leave no stone unturned in finding those who are defrauding the system, and we’ll use every weapon in our arsenal to bring them to justice.

The crackdown, which is ongoing, uses the same powers AUSTRAC and law enforcement agencies use to target money launders, drug dealers and terrorists.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 requires banks and other financial institutions to automatically report suspicious transactions to AUSTRAC.

A data matching agreement between DHS and AUSTRAC enables those suspicious transactions to be instantly cross-checked against the Department’s records to determine if an overpayment had occurred.

The agreement has saved taxpayers $17.8 million this financial year alone.

The average amount each welfare recipient was ordered to repay was $43,000.

A New South Wales disability support pensioner was ordered to repay $160,000 after failing to explain the source of $700,000 which had been deposited into their bank accounts over four years.

The person had not declared any income to the department during the period.

A Perth parent was ordered to repay more than $100,000 after investigators discovered income totalling $220,000 had not been declared to the Department. Instead, just $35,000 had been declared.

A Victorian retail worker also earned $100,000, but only declared $20,000 of that income. They were ordered to repay $30,000 and were sentenced to a two-year good behaviour bond after they pleaded guilty to welfare fraud.

This should serve as a wake-up call to those who think they can defraud Australian taxpayers.

For those that are defrauding the system, you will be caught, you will be forced to repay that money and you will face significant consequences.

Total Savings Per State/Territory:

$304,621 $15,578,530 $18,790 $2,462,520 $1,129,667 $672,245 $21,069,394 $2,192,260


Page last updated: 19 March 2018