Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Guilty of being a beneficiary

Guilty of being a beneficiary


Kay Brereton Co-convenor of the National Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of NZ is concerned that “ government plans for changing the rules for investigating benefit fraud constitutes an abuse of human rights, which removes the privacy rights of a class of citizens.”

“While we support the idea of making both parties to a fraud liable for any debt relating to fraud where a relationship in the nature of marriage is proven, we are very concerned at the removal of the requirement for investigators to first seek information from the parties under investigation.”

“All citizens of New Zealand believe they have the right to be treated as innocent until they are proven to be guilty.”

“This will no longer be the case for superannuitants, students, and anyone else who has received assistance from Work and Income, and finds themselves the subject of an investigation by the Benefit Fraud Investigation Unit.”

“In 1997 Parliament amended the Social Security Act to require the Ministry of Social Development to develop a code of conduct to guide the use of the information collection powers they exercise under section 11. This amendment to the Act clearly stated a requirement for information to first be sought from the beneficiary unless there exists 'reasonable cause' to believe that to do so would be 'likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law'. This amendment was enacted in part as a result of recommendations made by the Privacy Commisioner in 1994 as a result of complaints about the variable use of Section 11 by Ministry staff.”

“I understand the government has ammended the code of conduct to allow the National Fraud Investigation Unit to treat anyone under investigation by them as “likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law”, everyone under investigation will be treated as guilty and likely to delay or impede an investigation.

“At present the Social Security Act requires the Ministry to first seek information from the beneficiary before seeking it from a third party, it is the effect of this policy change to ignore the legislation.

“This intended change to policy means that the Fraud Investigator will first go to; current and former landlords, employers, children’s schools and day-care, banks and others, advising them that the person is a beneficiary under investigation for fraud.”

“In many cases an explanation from the accused party will resolve the investigation meaning little or no further resources are needed.

“Of the 16,266 allegations in 2010 only 2,424 resulted in a debt (14.9%) and of these only 690 were found to have warranted prosecution (4.24%).

“Often the allegation leading to an investigation will have a malicious source, resource material from Women's Refuge refers to “threatening to dob you in to welfare” as a common threat made in domestically abusive relationships.

“I am not satisfied that this change will not breach the privacy of individuals by disclosing to third parties that the individual is a beneficiary accused of fraud, this may have serious implications in relation to employment, housing and treatment by members of their community.”

“This is a stark contrast to the treatment of those under investigation for tax fraud; a fraud which costs the country far more than benefit fraud. Tax fraudsters are encouraged to make voluntary disclosure as early as possible to reduce the penalities imposed by the state.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Inquiry Into One Case Of Dirty Politics

Suddenly, we’re awash in inquiries and reviews. (It feels almost as if the Greens won the last election.) Caught out by the damning inquiry by SIS Inspector-General Cheryl Gwyn, the government’s response yesterday was utterly in character – it released two other major reports at the same time to try and distract public attention...

Inquiries are supposed to re-assure the public. What these inquiry outcomes share in common is a government culture of zero responsibility. More>>

IGIS: Statement On Early Report Release

As the Inspector-General stated at the release of the report yesterday morning, she is examining what steps to take over the early disclosure of information from the report... Ms Gwyn said that she was aware of Mr Goff's subsequent statements that he had disclosed some information concerning findings in the report. She will be seeking further information from Mr Goff and others. More>>

ALSO:

IGIS ON SIS:

 
 

Parliament Today:

Temporary Release Crackdown Continues: Corrections Review Of Phillip Smith Case

“The review by Corrections’ Chief Custodial Officer reveals that the plan for Smith’s series of temporary releases was overly ambitious and misinformed. He’s a highly manipulative and deceptive person who although technically eligible, should not have been considered for temporary release." More>>

ALSO:

White Ribbon Day: Govt Resumes Sexual Violence Trial Proceedings Work

Justice Minister Amy Adams has asked the Law Commission to resume work on proposals for better supporting victims of sexual violence through the criminal process. The Law Commission will revisit its previous work on alternative pre-trial and trial processes to identify options for improving complainants’ experience in court. More>>

ALSO:

"New Faces, Wise Heads": Andrew Little Announces New Labour Line Up

Labour Leader Andrew Little today announced a bold new caucus line up which brings forward new talent and draws on the party’s depth of experience. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Rick Ellis As Te Papa’s New CEO

The recent appointment of former TVNZ boss Rick Ellis to head Te Papa has copped a fair bit of criticism. Much of it has been inspired by the suspicion that Ellis has been hired to pursue the same purely commercial goals as he did at TVNZ, while similarly neglecting the serious cultural side of his mandate. More>>

Passport Cancellation, Surveillance: Draft 'Foreign Fighters Legislation' Released

The final draft of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill contains proposals previously announced by Mr Key in a major national security speech earlier this month. More>>

ALSO:

Related

Joint Statement: Establishment Of NZ-China Strategic Partnership

At the invitation of Governor-General Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Prime Minister The Rt Hon John Key of New Zealand, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China made a state visit to New Zealand from 19 to 21 November 2014... More>>

ALSO:

Savings Targets: Health Procurement Plan Changes Direction

Next steps in implementing DHB shared services programme Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Government has agreed to explore a proposal put forward by DHBs to move implementation of the shared services programme to a DHB-owned vehicle. More>>

ALSO:

More on Health Policy:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news