A Ballarat man was convicted and jailed for eight months after wrongfully claiming $50,000 in Newstart payments.
The Ballarat Magistrates' Court was told on Wednesday Gary Shearer, 52, had misrepresented his employment and income in order to continue receiving Newstart allowance over three years.
The prosecution said he had been employed casually between 2014 and 2018, and earned about $163,000 in that time, but had only declared $16,000 to the Department of Human Services.
Of the 92 times in that period he reported his income, he reported 43 times that he had received nil income despite having had income in that fortnight.
The prosecution alleged in total he had made 43 active false nil declarations and 49 false under-declarations.
He received $53,221.07 in social security benefits but was only eligible to receive about $2900.
A data match with the Australian Taxation Office in February 2018 revealed the offending, and Shearer did not respond to letters from the department in May inviting him to a formal interview.
Shearer's defence lawyer Jon Irwin said his client had been addicted to gambling, and was "pumping money into the pokies".
While he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, Shearer held a prior conviction for overpayments from 1993, where he was sentenced to two months in prison.
Magistrate Gregory Robinson said it was serious offending.
"It's of great concern to me that if he doesn't go to jail, what's stopping other people?" he asked the court.
"It was a high level of discrepancy between income earned and what was reported.
"You are stealing from the whole of the Commonwealth, taking from those who contribute their taxes, and jail is the only sentence that will fit this offending."
As well as the eight month sentence, Shearer will need to repay the entire $50,310.70, with $1000 recognisance and costs.
He will be eligible for release in five months.
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