Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek
Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek Alistair Brightman

Rorters to be made to repay money

IPSWICH residents who have fraudulently claimed government benefits set up for flood victims are in the crosshairs of a Centrelink taskforce.

Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek yesterday announced that so far more than 1400 payments for disaster assistance were being “investigated and reviewed” for possible fraud.

More than half a million claims for assistance have been processed by Centrelink as a result of floods and cyclone across the country since the start of the year.

Thousands of genuine flood- affected Ipswich residents successfully applied for the benefits, but it is believed hundreds of people in the region may have tried to claim funds they were not entitled to receive.

Disaster-affected victims received $1000 for adults and $400 for children under the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

Ms Plibersek said anyone found to have rorted the social security system would be required to pay the money back and was likely to face criminal prosecution.

“Attempting to take advantage of other people’s misfortune by dishonestly claiming a disaster payment is an abhorrent act,” said Ms Plibersek.

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said the Ipswich region would definitely be one of the areas the taskforce targeted.

“You can run but you can’t hide – they will get you,” he said.

“They will investigate claims and prosecute those who have fraudulently claimed.

“The overwhelming majority of residents are entitled to the payments, but there is always going to be people who look to take advantage of situations.”

The Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy has also been available for those who have lost income, and can be the equivalent to the Newstart Allowance. It may be paid for up to 13 weeks.

“The great majority of people who claimed a disaster payment were honest about their situation and were genuinely in need of urgent help,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Unfortunately, it appears a small minority have attempted to take advantage of the recovery effort.” Ms Plibersek said cases of serious fraud would be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.



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