A series of new internal documents show the scale of the fraud on the bushfire grants scheme run by the NSW Coalition Government. Because of a complete absence of fraud prevention measures one person was able to make more than 200 applications and received over $1 million in grants funding from bushfire relief funds.
Equally disturbing is evidence that necessary fraud control measures are still not in place, with Service NSW not having the capacity to identify the full scale of fraud across the billions of dollars of grants funds allocated through it.
Documents are available from the following links and a table setting out some of the most significant cases is below.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said:
"These documents make very disturbing reading, how on earth did the NSW government allow a single person to make more than 200 applications and pocket over a million dollars of emergency relief funds?
"We can see dozens and dozens of applications made by organised crime figures and other people taking advantage of the hopelessly inept lack of fraud prevention measures put in place by the Coalition.
"While there will almost certainly be more criminal cases, the truth is that most of this money has now been lost, either shifted overseas or just spent.
"The government is seeking to downplay the scale of the fraud and part of that strategy is rejecting the expert advice they were given to put in place full data matching programs to identify fraud.
"The experts have been calling for data matching since July 2020 stating:
"Key to the successful identification of potential fraudulent grant applications, is the ability to identify all associated grant applications ties to a fraudulent one ... Core Integrity identified early in their engagement that SNSW's ability to undertake this type of analysis was limited if not non-existent."
"The deeper tragedy here is that every cent of this is desperately needed by hard hit communities to rebuild after the fire. Instead this money has been thrown away by a government more interested in announceables and spin than real help.
"This is why the Public Accountability Committee is continuing with its grants inquiry, to get to the bottom of exactly how much was lost to fraud and why," Mr Shoebridge said.
Media contact: David Shoebridge 0408 113 952