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Oi ScoMo, cracking down on welfare cheats isn't that simple

21 December 2016
Jason Murphy

Australia’s mid-year budget update put a grin on Treasurer Scott Morrison’s face. Everyone was expecting the nation’s finances had turned ill. We thought the ratings agencies were about to descend, and place the tender neck of our triple-A rating upon the guillotine.

Instead, Morrison released a MYEFO that managed to keep deficits fairly modest and debt more or less under control.


Improving welfare compliance is a policy we can all support — in principle. The integrity of the system depends on payments going to the deserving, not anyone else.

But how big is the problem? For all that is written about welfare crackdowns in the popular press, they are little discussed in expert circles.


The $2 billion in cash the government expects to reap from its crackdown may simply not be available.

While there is not a great amount of evidence on the scale of welfare fraud, one objective measure is the rate of referrals by Centrelink to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It shows a big of decline.