Cheating in any form is abhorrent, whether it’s cheating on an exam on your spouse or in sport.
But when you cheat the welfare system, you’re actually cheating the hardworking members of your family, your neighbours, even the couple who own the corner store. Because it is these people’s tax dollars which help pay those in the welfare system.
These cheaters, and there’s tens of thousands of them in Australia, are the ones who actually make it hard for those who legitimately need welfare to help them through some hard times or to make them comfortable in their old age.
Now the time of reckoning has come for those who think they have got away with what is effectively stealing.
This is particularly so for the almost 170,000 Australians with welfare debts racked up through false claims and who have decided not to pay back this debt.
These cheaters, who have been caught red-handed but are cheeky enough to continue thumbing their noses at the system, are being warned to sign replacement plans or be slapped with interest charges.
This new effort is in the hopes of recouping $900 million. That’s money which could be redirected to better health facilities, improved education services or delivering much-need roads programs.
A large chunk of the $900 million is just from one person who pocketed $800,000 by lodging fraudulent claims for fictitious children and an undeclared business income. This person has coughed up a one-off $3000 repayment, but is refusing to negotiate any further arrangements to clear the debt.
How can people like these cheaters sleep well at night knowing that their’s was not just an oversight to lodge employment details, but out-and-out stealing.
"All those being contacted no longer receive a benefit but previously received payments they were not entitled to and have made no effort - in some cases for over a decade - to repay what they owe," Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said in announcing the initiative.
"For those who refuse to take action, interest charges are only the beginning. My department will also look at other measures such as garnishing wages and tax refunds or referring matters to external collection agents."
People have been given 28 days to commit to a repayment plan or be whacked with interest of 8.77 per cent.