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Abstract

The populist narrative of welfare cheating in Australia is perpetuated, in part, through the reporting of overpayments identified via government initiatives such as data-matching. The Data-matching Program compares the income reported to Centrelink with data held by the Australian Taxation Office. This paper reports that at least half as many people may be missing out on government assistance as are receiving an over payment. The amount being missed is appreciably more than the government saves through recouping over payments. It is argued that data-matching should be used to find those people missing out on assistance, the number of which the government should also be quantifying.

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