Fraud Squad concerns not just ours

3 December 2018

Concerns are growing about the government’s decision to cut funding to a fraud squad within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

In Parliament last week, the Opposition questioned the government about the decision to cut the funding to the DPP fraud squad.

The Attorney General responded by saying: "The funding of the DPP fraud squad is not being cut. That funding had a fixed term to the end of this year, and the budget process is looking at a whole-of-agency submission from the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice."

"Yet on page 28 of the DPP’s 17/18 annual report, he said: ‘Despite the success of the unit, a submission for ongoing funding for the four supernumerary positions which make up the unit was rejected by Cabinet. As the positions can no longer be funded from within the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice, the unit will cease to exist at the end of the 2018 calendar year’," Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said.

"The ICAC Commissioner Kenneth Fleming QC has also expressed his ‘deep concerns’ about the funding cuts. The Commissioner told local media he holds concerns about the DPP’s ability to prosecute corruption charges referred to it by ICAC."

The DPP fraud squad brought a number of successful prosecutions in the PenCon area as well as other fraud cases.

"Like police and corrections, the DPP has been asked to do more with less, and will now be hit with additional caseload as a result of ICAC prosecution referrals with less ability to prosecute," Mrs Finocchiaro said.

"And as we have consistently stated, the ICAC itself is underfunded. Justice Martin recommended $5 million in the first year, Labor has allocated $3 million.

"It’s time the government realised they can’t just pour scorn on legitimate concerns about their funding decisions.

"The Labor government has spent us into a record debt, yet can’t spare a relatively small amount of money to protect Territorians from serious fraud. Where are this Government’s priorities?"