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Maharey Soft On Fraud

Maharey Soft On Fraud

Labour's weak-kneed approach to welfare fraud is costing the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Answers to my parliamentary questions reveal that, since Labour was elected, the total amount of fraud detected dropped by 30 percent, with domestic purposes benefit (DPB) fraud detected dropping by a massive 60 percent.

"In 1998 - before Labour was elected - almost $123 million of fraud had been detected, with $60 million being DPB fraud. After three years of Social Service and Employment Minister Steve Maharey's soft-on-fraud approach, last year only $79 million of total fraud was identified, with DPB fraud detection dropping to $22 million.

"The Minister's courting of the Beneficiaries' Union has weakened the Government's commitment to fraud detection. Hampered by restrictions - such as having to make appointments to visit households - the Benefit Control Unit's complex task of dealing with benefit fraud is now even more difficult.

"Meanwhile, couples like paua smugglers Zhang Yuan Da and Zhong Hui Hong are able to get away with being on benefits illegally for 11 years," Dr Newman said.

"Faced with these damning statistics, the Government line is that Mr Maharey has strengthened "fraud prevention". Yet Mr Maharey has not been able to produce any evidence that this is the case.

"When the Government spin is discarded, the figures tell the true story - one of a soft-on-fraud Minister and taxpayers who are increasingly being ripped off," Dr Newman said.

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