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Quit Spinning And Address Benefit Fraud, Labour

Quit Spinning And Address Benefit Fraud, Labour

Monday 16 Feb 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today demanded answers from Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey, after new information shows that his Ministry does not record whether benefit debt is the result of overpayment or fraud.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that the Social Development Ministry does not record whether benefit debt is caused by overpayment or fraud - yet, as of December 31 2003, that debt had reached a total of $251,539,597," Dr Newman said.

"Mr Maharey can argue that he and his Government are serious about cracking down on benefit fraud, but this information demonstrates that this is nothing more than Labour spin.

"To have a multi-million dollar benefit computer system that cannot identify the difference between fraud and overpayments in the year 2004 is simply incomprehensible. The Government has a duty to protect the integrity of the benefit system.

"The fact that it cannot be determined whether the quarter of a million dollars in benefit money wrongly paid out in the past financial year was a result of criminal activity or administrative error demonstrates an unbelievable level of incompetence.

"This incompetence works to protect benefit fraudsters who are ripping off the taxpayer right under the Government's nose.

"I demand that Mr Maharey and his Labour colleagues take action. Addressing benefit fraud should be a priority for any government. The time for excuses has gone. It is now time for action," Dr Newman said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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