Mccardle Tells Alliance And Labour To Get Real On Fraud

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

Associate Social Services, Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle today attacked the Alliance and Labour for their nonsense over benefit fraud investigations.

"To call for an end to the benefit crime campaign is irresponsible and can only be explained as election-year posturing. Ordinary hard-working New Zealanders have no truck with people who rip off the system, and they support a tough approach where it is needed," Mr McCardle said.

"In a half-baked attempt to discredit the legitimate pursuit of fraudsters, the Alliance's Grant Gillon made a number of wrong claims to the media on the weekend regarding one case. He ought to check his facts in future.

"He claimed a man was approached by Income Support for information regarding his neighbour two years ago. Wrong. The man actually instigated the matter by writing to then-Income Support three years ago.

"Gillon claims the man gave his information on the understanding it would remain confidential. Wrong. Work and Income records show he was prepared to give evidence if necessary. His name was not released mistakenly by WINZ.

"Gillon's wrong claims certainly do not make up a case for stopping investigations.

"Most beneficiaries act responsibly and properly. However, because a minority do not, and such is the enormous taxpayer expenditure in this area - ten billion dollars a year - Work and Income has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to stop taxpayer ripoffs. And, as a matter of policy, all accusations are investigated.

"The three-month benefit fraud campaign referred to as the "dob-in campaign", was only one part of ongoing work to minimise benefit fraud. Last financial year the Department identified just over $100 million in fraudulent overpayments. The clampdown on fraud was not a one-off and will continue. Every day people continue to write or call WINZ with information, and can do so anonymously without giving their names.

"Unlike the Opposition, this Government takes benefit fraud seriously and is not going to go soft on it," Mr McCardle concluded.