Remarks at the launch of the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Fraud against the Commonwealth 2009-10 Annual Report to Government

Secretary, Roger Wilkins

Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Dr Adam Tomison

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my pleasure to launch the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Fraud against the Commonwealth 2009-10 Annual Report to Government.

All of the work produced by the Australian Institute of Criminology is important.

This report is a particularly important piece of work.

It’s about fraud – but it is also about trust.

The Australian Government lost half a billion dollars through fraud and theft in 2009-10.

Money that could be spent on schools, hospitals and roads.

But there is an even greater potential cost involved – the loss of public trust and confidence in the public sector.

Good government requires a good public service.

And the key to a good public service is trust.

In 2009-10 the Commonwealth spent $337 billion of taxpayers’ money.

This is a big responsibility.

It is a responsibility which requires safeguards to be put in place to prevent fraud, theft and misuse of funds.

That is why we have the Australian National Audit Office.

That is why we have the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

That is why we have big compliance and fraud control operations at the Australian Tax Office and other Commonwealth agencies.

And that is why we keep track of fraud against the Commonwealth – through this report.

This report is based on information from 152 departments and agencies.

Almost 706,000 incidents of fraud – internal and external – were reported in 2009-10.

This was a 17 per cent reduction from the previous year in terms of the amount lost, and a 12 per cent reduction in terms of the number of reported incidents.

The number of internal frauds also decreased – down almost 10 per cent from the previous year.

However, the report shows a 10 per cent increase in the losses arising from internal fraud.

The report also highlights the work of Centrelink in targeting external fraud.

Centrelink is one of Australia’s largest public sector agencies.

It administered $84.2 billion in payments in 2009-10 alone – making it a potential target for fraudulent activity.

In 2009-10 Centrelink and investigated almost 25,000 suspected incidents of fraud worth approximately $76 million.

In the same year it prosecuted almost 4000 cases, with a successful conviction rate of over 99 per cent.

A lot the information included in this report is encouraging, but it is clear that there is a lot more work to do.

Fraud hurts the financial integrity of the Commonwealth.

But more importantly it affects the integrity of the public sector and the public trust invested in it.

It is the work we do together, in work like this, that will ensure that trust is earned and retained.

Thank you.