Shayne Neumann MP
Federal Member for Blair

Australian Labor
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Reports released this week demonstrate exactly where Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities are: one shows the Government is targeting social security recipients and threatening them with jail, while the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) figures show more than one in three large firms pay no tax

The Department of Human Services and the Australian Federal Police have been writing to people receiving Centrelink benefits and threatening them with jail if they provide inaccurate information. 

Federal member for Blair, Shayne Neumann said the Turnbull Government’s priorities were wrong.

“Malcolm Turnbull is demonising vulnerable Australians while big businesses are getting away with paying no tax,” Mr Neumann said.

“At the same time, Malcolm Turnbull argues that cutting company tax rates should be the nation’s top economic priority.

“The real priority here should be improving the services provided to pensioners, people with disability, carers and vulnerable people, who should not be made to feel they are frauds and cheats.”

According to figures from the Australian Council of Social Service just 0.018% of people receiving payments were investigated for fraud, while 996 cases were referred to prosecutors and just 29 cases resulted in indictable charges.

“I believe that people who deliberately rort the system should be investigated and required to repay the money - that’s only fair.

“But there is a big difference between maintaining the integrity of our social security system and harassing ordinary Australians with letters from the police threatening them with jail if they give inaccurate information to Centrelink.”

The ATO’s data, covering 1904 companies in total, is only available thanks to Labor’s tax transparency laws, which passed the parliament in 2013 over the objections of the Coalition.

“I acknowledge that the majority of companies are doing the right thing. However it is concerning that the report reveals that 36 per cent of large firms paid no tax on their earnings.

“This includes 109 companies that paid no tax, despite reporting more than $1 billion in total income.

“The Turnbull Government has failed to crack down on multinational tax avoidance and is deflecting its incompetence by demonising some of our most vulnerable people.”

Mr Neumann said one of causes of inaccurate reporting to Centrelink is likely to be the lack is support and services available to those seeking benefits.

“This Government has slashed frontline Centrelink staff, closed Medicare offices, and insists those seeking support go online or wait for hours on the phone.

“It assumes everyone has access to a computer and a decent internet service along with the computer and literacy skills required to use the online systems.

“I know the Department of Human Services staff across Ipswich and the Somerset Region are dedicated and hard working. But they are under a lot of pressure since the Turnbull Government took an axe to frontline staff.

“Unfortunately, the Coalition and those on the cross benches, including the Greens and One Nation, refuse to stand up for the most vulnerable Australians, siding with Mr Turnbull in protecting the interests of big companies.

“Instead of making sure multinationals pay their fair share, the Turnbull government wants to punish working and middle class families by implementing a massive corporate tax cut that will hammer the budget when it is most vulnerable.  

“Labor remains committed to closing debt-deduction loopholes that cost Australian taxpayers billions of dollars.

“When multinationals don't pay their fair share, Australians have to pay more.”