Aussies Should Do DNA Test to Claim Indigenous Welfare Benefit, Says One Nation Candidate

March 11, 2019 Updated: March 11, 2019

The leader of the nation-minded New South Wales One Nation party is demanding that those claiming welfare payments based on Australian Indigenous heritage be subject to a DNA test in a bid to end abuse of the system by opportunists.

Mark Latham, also Australia’s former Labor opposition leader, has vowed to crack down on welfare abuse by rorters who claim to be of Aboriginal heritage but have no recognisable Aboriginal background if elected to the NSW Parliament in the upcoming state general election on March 23.

Latham, who is running for a seat in the upper house in the upcoming election, lamented how “sick and tired” Australians of seeing people with “blonde hair and blue eyes declaring themselves to be Indigenous” without any bloodline or DNA proof.

“Clearly they have no recognisable Aboriginal background and are doing it solely to qualify for extra money,” he said in a public statement.

Latham accuses the government’s current system of self-identification to be leaving the welfare system open to “widespread abuse.”

“It is being used as a fraudulent way of cashing in on welfare benefits, special Aboriginal programs and Land Council largesse,” he said. “Any waste of taxpayer funds in this area is highly disrespectful to genuine Indigenous. It weakens the integrity of their racial group and takes money away from people in genuine need.”

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology website, the government-funded Centrelink agency distributed about $86.6 billion (US$60.9 billion) in social security payments to 6.8 million customers across 140 benefit types on behalf of 27 government departments and agencies in the 2009 financial year.

In that same period, 641,504 payments were cancelled or adjusted down, 5,082 were referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and about two-thirds of those cases were prosecuted and convicted on the ground of fraud. However, there was no specific data on how many cases are related to fraudulently claiming based on Aboriginal heritage.

Previous Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan confirmed that back in 2017 and 2018, $1.4 billion (US$1 billion) had been saved due to a government crackdown on welfare fraud.

“Australia has a generous social safety net reflective of our fundamental belief in a fair go,” Keenan said in a public statement. “While the majority of people do the right thing, there are those who set out to deliberately defraud the system, robbing Australian families in the process … we have zero tolerance to anyone who defrauds the system.”

If elected into the NSW Senate, One Nation is promising to help introduce a new system of Indigenous identification that would rely on commonly available DNA ancestry testing. As part of the changes, eligibility rules for claiming Aboriginal identity would be tightened to requiring DNA evidence that someone is at least 25 percent Indigenous—the equivalent of one fully Aboriginal grandparent.

“These tests have become common and affordable in recent times, making them ideal as reliable proof of Aboriginality,” Latham said. “We believe in an honest and fair welfare system. First Australians deserve the respect of stopping rorters and opportunists from masquerading as Indigenous.”

Latham believes that federal and other state and territory governments should also introduce his reform.

You can report suspected fraud online or by phoning the fraud tip-off hotline on 131 524 in Australia.