Fake Couples who Marry for Visa Targetted

fake-marriage-weddingNon-genuine couples who have orchestrated “fake marriages” to gain Australian visas and then claim separate welfare cheques will be stripped of entitlements as part of a nationwide crackdown to be announced by the Federal Government today.

Thousands of people have potentially declared sponsorship of a partner for immigration purposes but are then claiming single welfare payments because they are not together.

The Daily Telegraph has learned taxpayers were milked $132.7 million last year in welfare payments that were fraudulent.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Human Services Minister Marise Payne will today announce a new data matching system which will find couples who claim to be either married or in a de facto relationship but are providing separate departments with different information.

Legitimate couples, who are happily married, but claim to have split so they can earn more money from separate payments will also be targeted.

Australia’s welfare bill is expected to balloon by close to $40 billion over the forward estimates, from $150 billion to almost $190 billion.

Mr Dutton confirmed “contrived marriages” were on the rise.

“Last year, my department identified an increase in the number of allegations relating to the facilitating of contrived marriages,” he said.

“This data-matching program is part of a whole-of-government approach to fraud detection and prevention. People who deliberately take advantage of Australia’s welfare and migration system will be caught.’’

Those found to have defrauded the system face losing their visa, being forced to pay back the money and criminal charges.

Mr Dutton said visas obtained through fraudulent relationships cost taxpayers significant amounts of money and blocked genuine people from being granted a spot in Australia.

Senator Payne said some legitimate couples had worked out they are financially better off to pretend they have split, yet remain a couple.

“People who receive a Centrelink payment and deliberately fail to declare their correct relationship status to the Department of Human Services are breaking the law,’’ she said.

“The Government is committed to protecting taxpayers’ money and the integrity of Australia’s social security system by ensuring people receive the right payment at the right time.’’

The announcement comes after the government yesterday confirmed yesterday a senior Australian Federal Police officer will be hired to head a crack welfare taskforce to identify fraud.

Last year the government cracked down on the $16 billion Disability Support Pension rort, ordering new applicants to see a Commonwealth appointed doctor to determine if they were eligible for the welfare.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government was committed to cracking down on welfare cheats.

Eight out of 10 Australian taxpayers are needed just to cover the national welfare bill. The partner visa data-matching program will begin next month and initially run for a year.

Parramatta Family Court Overwhelmed with Blowout in Cases

family-court-of-australiaA judge hearing family law cases has slammed a 600 per cent blowout in Western Sydney court lists that have left children at the centre of ­custody cases at risk and his colleagues distressed.

Judge Joe Harman said he has 700 cases on the go at once and that even regularly sitting eight to 10 hours a day in the Federal Circuit Court could not address the “tsunami” of work the Parramatta judges have to deal with.

In a damning indictment of the overstretched resources, he said some children may look back and judge the court harshly for their treatment.

“Delays in determination of … most other parenting cases before the court will disadvantage and poorly serve the interests of children — the future of our society,” he said, using judgments in two custody cases handed down last month to call for more resources.

He likened sitting on the court, which now deals with 85 per cent of the cases once heard by the Family Court, to a doctor in an emergency ward.

“This situation is, for the judges of this court, analogous to a doctor operating upon a patient in a busy emergency room with the known certainty that two more patients will bleed out and die in the corridor while working on this patient and knowing full well that with more resources, two more sets of hands, no life need have been lost,” Judge Harman said.

The Parramatta court has been under pressure with one of its five judges on extended leave pending his retirement while the Family and Federal Circuit Courts are in line for budget cuts of up to $30 million.

Judge Harman said the court lists for the rest of 2015 were already full and “there are far too many matters to be dealt with properly or effectively” as judges face the “distressing” task every day of deciding which cases to hear.

In one case involving two children aged and 13 and 14, whose parents have been fighting over their custody since 2007, he had to adjourn further hearings until tomorrow and Thursday but warned that those dates were already “600 per cent over-listed”.

In another custody case involving a five-year-old boy, the judge said every child’s interests deserved to be determined in a “timely fashion” but it was not possible with the present resources.

“And the barren and distressing task every judge of this court must face on a daily basis is determining who will be heard and who will not.”

Geoffrey Edelsten’s Divorce Drama as Debt Collector Hired

edelston-and-greckoTwo Melbourne apartments once owned by disgraced doctor Geoffrey Edelsten were offloaded in a fire sale this weekend, but his ex-wife has staked her claim on the properties amid their ongoing divorce battle.

Geoffrey Edelsten and former partner Brynne Edelsten (nee Gordon) are still embroiled in a split settlement after the messy break-down of their high-profile, four-year marriage.

The penthouses on Exhibition Street, which went to auction consecutively, bore no trace of the flamboyant de-registered medico and his partner Gabi Grecko.

Mr Edelsten’s ex-wife Brynne Gordon has staked her claim on the properties amid their ongoing divorce battle.

Despite the properties’ colourful history, it could have been any other auction unfolding across on Melbourne, with families clustered together and men in t-shirts and jeans on their phones, doing the sums before considering a bid.

The three bedroom apartment sold to a man in black for $1,607,000 after a drawn-old bidding war against a woman with a whopping Louis Vuitton handbag.

Earlier, the one-bedroom pad was passed in for $1,301,000 but sold later by negotiation.

Mr Edelsten paid $1.2 million for each of the homes in February, 2011, but he won’t pocket the windfall from the auctions.

It’s understood he and his on-off flame and now fiance Gabi Grecko​ have not lived at Exhibition Street for several months.

The medical entrepreneur, who was declared bankrupt and de-registered as a doctor in the 1980s, revealed last year his 91-year-old mother had been bankrolling​ his lifestyle.

Ms Gordon, whom he wed in a lavish $3 million ceremony at Crown Casino in 2009, slapped down caveats on the penthouses in February this year through her lawyers.


The Edelston penthouse at 1803/181 Exhibition Street

The apartment sales follow feared debt collector and gangland identity Mick Gatto paying a visit to Geoffrey Edelsten to “remind” him of his financial obligations to his ex-wife.

It was revealed in September last year that the former Carlton Crew boss and an associate were “hired”  by a connection of Ms Gordon’s new beau, to emphasise Geoffrey Edelsten’s responsibilities to his ex-wife.

The meeting came after the couple’s protracted separation has repeatedly erupted in a media slanging match between Brynne, the controversial businessman and his new beau Gabi Grecko, which has seen the trio publicly trading insults and accusations of infidelity.

The dispute has also festered amid claims Mr Edelsten has continued to spend lavishly on himself but allegedly withheld financial support from Brynne, including seeking to have her car repossessed.

“Geoff was quite happy to assist but he’s not really in a good financial position right now,” Mr Gatto said. “But he is aware he’s got responsibilities that have to be taken care of.”

Mr Mick Gatto declined to comment on the settlement amount that was requested or the identity of the person who contracted his services.

But a source said that Mick Gatto, who has established a reputation as one of the city’s most prominent and feared debt collectors, was approached by a “friend” close to Brynne and her new boyfriend, professional weightlifter Big Red Ra.

And it looks like Edelston’s current fiancé, Gabi Grecko might be walking down the aisle with her much older boyfriend Geoffrey Edelsten, 71, sooner than anticipated, revealing his divorce from wife Brynne Edelsten is days away from being finalised.

‘We’ve waited so long it feels like forever but I’ll be excited to be the new Gabi Grecko Edelsten,’ said the corset-loving blonde.

Budget 2015: Family Court fees set to dramatically rise

court-judgmentUnhappy couples who are planning to get a divorce or families experiencing a breakdown will be hit by a “divorce tax” as federal court fees will dramatically rise under changes in the government’s new budget.

The changes, which Labor derided as “mean-spirited”, will result in an $87 million increase in revenue from the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court and Federal Court of Australia.

Fairfax Media understands that the fee to apply for divorce will “significantly rise” under the new fee schedule. It is currently $845.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General George Brandis confirmed the fee increases, but said the full details would not be available until July 1.

“Court fee changes have been announced to assist with streamlining and improving the sustainability of the federal courts,” she said.

Labor’s family law spokesman Graham Perrett described the increase as a “mean-spirited tax on family breakdowns”.

“Senator Brandis should be ashamed that he is taking advantage of a vulnerable sector of society to line the government coffers,” Mr Perrett said.

“Only last month a Family Court judge publicly apologised for the year-long delay in delivering judgment due to an over-worked and under-resourced Family Court.”

Budget papers say changes to the fee structure of the the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court will bring in revenue of $66.6 million, while the Federal Court of Australia will raise $17.8 million.

Of the $87.7 million revenue from the increased fees, $22.5 million will go to streamlining the three courts, while $30 million will be channelled towards refurbishing the Court buildings. This means $35.2 million will return to the Abbott government.

The Family Court primarily hears cases of family breakdowns, child custody, property settlements and spousal maintenance. According to its website, it allows Australians to resolve their most complex legal family disputes. The Federal Circuit Court was established to relieve the workload for the Federal Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, 40 per cent of marriages end in divorce in Australia.

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