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Government must keep pressure on benefit fraud

Monday 28th Jun 1999 Muriel Newman Media Release -- Justice

Government Must Keep Pressure On Benefit Fraudsters

ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today said Government must keep the pressure firmly on benefit fraudsters with a Zero Tolerance approach to benefit fraud.

"The Government's benefit fraud campaign is obviously working. $111 million of benefit fraud has been detected for the 98/99 year. That is up $10 million on the year before.

"The real issue that needs to be addressed however, is not just detecting the fraud but making sure that any money stolen from the welfare system is paid back. Further, it is imperative that those committing the crime are prosecuted. In the 1997-1998 year, 45,408 benefit overpayments as a result of deliberate fraud were detected, but only 1450 of those cases were referred for prosecution.

"The Government's own survey shows that 92% of New Zealanders expect a Zero Tolerance approach to benefit fraud. Those ripping off the system should be punished and excuses like the Court system being bogged down by cases are simply not good enough. If anyone breaks the law and steals welfare money they must be prosecuted in order to preserve the integrity of the welfare system.

"Hard working taxpayers pay for a welfare safety net that helps those who are genuinely in need and they need to be assured that the Government is doing all it can to ensure that their money is not being stolen," said Muriel Newman.

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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