Welfare Rights Review

Press Council upholds NWRN complaint against Daily Telegraph

On 14 July, the Australian Press Council (APC) handed down its adjudication on the complaint against several articles published by the Daily Telegraph on 30 September 2014.

The adjudication, published by the Daily Telegraph in full on 14 July 2015, held that the Daily Telegraph article, which had stated that NWRN ran online forums described as “online guides used to con doctors”, was unfair, inaccurate, and breached standards.

The NWRN had written to the editor on the day that the articles were first published seeking a correction to the record. The response of the paper was to write a follow up article headlined “Bludging guides stay on”. The Press Council found that this did not amount to adequate remedial action.

In our opinion, the vilification of people receiving income support by some print, online and radio media outlets is reaching new lows. It is disappointing that the day before the adjudication was handed down, the Daily Telegraph ran yet another story about rorting, this time implying that a pension fraud crackdown had saved $636 million. In fact, most of those savings came from reassessment of disability pensioners under new stricter impairment tables and had absolutely nothing to do with fraud.

The NWRN welcomed the adjudication in its media release dated 14 July 2015 calling for responsible media outlets, Government, the parliament and community groups to take steps to steer the public debate to a more factual, balanced and respectful discussion. NWRN’s Fact Sheet on the disability support pension can be found here.

The articles, headlined “Rorters sharing tips to get on disability pension: how to fudge a bludge” and “it’s so easy to fudge a bludge: Online guides used to con doctors into giving our disability support pensions” can still be found online although they now link to the Press Council adjudication.