Prison Awaits Welfare Cheats – Government
7 September 2015 at 12:37 pm
The Abbott Government has warned that people caught cheating the welfare system could face lengthy prison sentences.
It comes as a man from Queensland and a Western Australian woman were sent to jail for deliberately defrauding the Commonwealth.
A 52-year-old Warwick man was sentenced to nine months jail on Thursday last week for stealing $17,000 in government payments while on Wednesday a Western Australian woman was sent to prison for up to 18 months for failing to disclose her relationship while receiving over $95,000 in Parenting Payment Single payments.
Minister for Human Services, Senator Marise Payne the Warwick Magistrates Court heard Ian Clarkson had failed to declare more than $50,000 in income while receiving Newstart Allowance between February 2011 and April 2012.
Senator Payne said Clarkson's fraud was detected by the Department of Human Services' extensive data-matching program which matches customer records and data with external agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office.
"The punishments handed out this week show that stealing from taxpayers will not be tolerated," Senator Payne said.
"Deliberately withholding information or failing to notify the department when your circumstances change is a criminal offence. This includes not telling us about changes in income and changes in your relationship status.
"If you are deliberately doing the wrong thing you will be caught and you will face serious consequences.
"We have an obligation to taxpayers to protect the integrity of our welfare system so that we can ensure that we can support those in need.”
Mr Clarkson was sentenced to a total of nine months imprisonment, to be released after one month and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond.
A Reparation Order for $17,543.89 was also made.
The Warwick Daily News reported that Clarkson applied for the Newstart payment when he was made redundant from his former job in 2011.
Warwick Magistrates Court heard despite gaining a job two weeks later, he continued to receive the payments until April 2012.