Labour Flip - Flops On Benefit Fraud

  • Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)

"Labour has been caught out. In 1990 the then-Social Welfare Minister Michael Cullen called for the public to dob in people abusing the benefit system, as part of an assertive stand against welfare fraud.

"Now his colleague Steve Maharey is jumping up and down in mock outrage at the use of public tipoffs, and is promising the scheme will be abandoned if Labour ever came to power", Associate Social Services, Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.

"This is a case of double standards. Either Labour supports the legitimate detecting of welfare fraud, or it doesn't. It should make up its mind. In a speech at the opening of Ashburton's Social Welfare Office in March 1990, Mr Cullen called for people to come forward if they suspected ripoffs, saying:

"Bluntly, if you know of this kind of fraud then it is your duty to dob in those involved...and if you aren't prepared to do that, the demand will become irresistible for the state to have coercive powers it should not have".

He also said that if the public was not prepared to be honest then the Social Welfare department was "trying to push a snowball uphill" in attempting to combat welfare fraud.

Mr McCardle said "Seeking public help to uncover fraud is sensible and worthwhile. Every day around 100 people contact WINZ with information about suspected benefit abuse. Since July last year more than 21,000 allegations have been investigated. That flow of information has been coming in for many years - well before the recent publicity campaign - and I expect it will continue."