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Australians just dobbed in 90,000 welfare cheats

A sign with Centrelink and Medicare logos on the left, and a hand reaching into woman's handbag on the right.
(Images: Getty)

More than 90,000 tip-offs from the public about welfare cheats were made to the government department responsible for Medicare and Centrelink last financial year.

"Ninety-thousand tip-offs tells me the average Australian has had a gutful of it," minister for government services Stuart Roberts told Sky News.

He said those cheating the system weren't actually robbing the government.

"It’s actually taking money from the next door neighbour and the lovely lady across the street who pays tax – that’s who you are stealing from."

Welfare, child support and Medicare payments total $184 billion each year, which Roberts' office stated was approximately one-third of the government's annual expenditure.

The revelation comes after last month's conviction of a NSW man who reported 73 times that he earned nothing, even though he was on a salary of more than $100,000. This resulted in the Dubbo man receiving $66,762 from Centrelink when he should have only been granted $21,507.

The number of public dob-ins was encouraging, according to Roberts.

"I commend the tens of thousands of individuals for making the call and doing their part to maintain the integrity of our welfare system," he said.

"There are a small number of people who abuse department services and get money for which they’re not eligible. Australians expect their government to maintain the integrity of our highly targeted welfare system."

A department of human services' specialist team analyses every public tip-off. Dob-ins can be made anonymously online or over the phone.

If there is a potential criminal element, the department refers the case to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, which could end up with charges and imprisonment.

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