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Labour gives up on tracking benefit fraud

Katherine Rich MP National Party Social Services Spokeswoman

04 October 2004

Labour gives up on tracking benefit fraud

National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich says it appears the Labour Government is giving up on tracking benefit fraud.

"Either the Government's not doing its homework, or the Minister in charge of the portfolio has something to hide," says Mrs Rich.

According to recent answers to written parliamentary questions, the Government either does not know or is refusing to say:

* How many cases of fraud have been identified where a beneficiary has claimed more than one main or parent benefit concurrently, broken down by region and benefit type.
* How many convictions have there been for a beneficiary claiming more than one main or parent benefit concurrently.
* How many cases of fraud have been identified where a beneficiary has claimed more than one main or parent benefit concurrently under different names, broken down by region and benefit types.
* Or how many convictions there have been for a beneficiary who claimed more than one main or parent benefit concurrently under different names, broken down by region and benefit type.

"The Department clearly must have the answers, but instead the Minister has responded in an arrogant way, rejecting outright my request for the release of what most people would think is straight-forward data," says Mrs Rich.

In his response, Rick Barker says 'officials have advised that answering this question would require a significant resource commitment to manual collation and management of data, which I am unwilling to make'.

"I do hope this is not a sign that there is so much fraud, that collating the data is viewed as a major exercise," says Mrs Rich.

"Given the extravagant growth in the size of Labour's bureaucracy, it's quite inconceivable that there aren't the people to process genuine inquiries relating to public information.

"The Minister is treating taxpaying New Zealanders and the parliamentary process with contempt. It is simply not acceptable for those of us who expect transparency to be told that that he has the figures, but it's too much work to provide the answers," says Mrs Rich.

ENDS

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