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Funding cut to catch fraud, but most vulnerable targeted with flawed robo-debt mess

2 March 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP; Clare O’Neil MP
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton; Clare O’Neil MP, Shadow Minister for Justice, ALP Member for Hotham

Senior public servants have revealed that the Turnbull Government will cut funding which is meant to help catch serious criminals exploiting Centrelink, while Alan Tudge continues to target the most vulnerable with his error prone robo-debt system.
During Senate Estimates hearings on Tuesday, public servants confirmed that the funding used by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) to assist the Department of Human Services (DHS) catch out clients committing serious fraud will end in 2019, with the program slated to be wound down.
In 2014 AUSTRAC helped provide intelligence for 321 Department of Human Services investigations to target criminals who would defraud the Commonwealth.
The $3.4 million cut could see people who engage in serious criminal activity - including money laundering, terrorism financing and organised crime - get away with exploiting our welfare system.
“This move flies in the face of the tough on welfare fraud rhetoric used by Alan Tudge to justify his robo-debt system”, Shadow Minister for Human Services, Linda Burney said.
“The Turnbull Government has its priorities all wrong, targeting honest hard working Australians and scaling back measures to identify criminal activity. That simply doesn’t make sense”
“The Government must explain why it is cutting funding to this program. Only this government would launch a misguided attack on hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians while giving serious, fraudulent criminals a free kick.” Shadow Minister for Justice, Clare O’Neil said.
“Financial crimes require considerable expertise to investigate, it is deeply concerning that this program could be ended leaving the welfare system open to abuse.”