11 November 2021

SUBJECT: Labor’s plan to fight online scammers.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION: It's great to be here with Julie Owens in Parramatta. And this morning we've been talking to three of her constituents who are Tamil refugees, who’ve come to Australia for protection to start a new life. They've been working hard since they arrived here, mainly in construction, labouring and excavation work. They’ve saved money and tragically they’ve fallen victim to a sophisticated online scam promulgated through Facebook, but it could have been any of the other social media apps or online applications. They lost between them close to $25,000. This story is repeated thousands and thousands and thousands of times around Australia. The cost of scams in Australia $33bn a year according to the Government. And it's gone up and up and up over the pandemic, where more people have been working from home, locked down at home and doing their commerce online. The Government was warned that there was a problem, a big problem that was going to get worse. Regrettably, they've done nothing about it. They've let Australia become a scammers’ paradise and it is costing households and small businesses millions and millions of dollars every week. The Government needs to step up and do more. Labor is proposing a new strategy to take on the scammers. A tough new cop on the beat. A one-stop shop in Government. A new scam busting centre, where we bring together the regulator's, the police force, industry representatives to act fast in real time to identify the scammers and shut them down. We'd like to say that nobody will ever fall victim to one of these scams again, but we know that that won't be the case. That's why more needs to be done to provide support to victims of scams. We’ll provide more support to the organisations which are providing support to the victims. If you've lost your ID or had it stolen through an online scam, we're going to provide more support to ensure that you can have your ID repaired and recovered. Because too often we find that somebody who has fallen to pray to a scam once has their details on-sold on the black market, on the black web, and they fall victim to a scam again. This isn't going to go away. The Government needs to step up and an Albanese Labor Government will ensure that Australians are protected against this scamdemic.
JOURNALIST: In what way has the pandemic paved the way for scammers to take advantage of Australians I guess more than in the past?
JONES: Australians are spending more time online. They're doing more of their day-to-day commerce online, whether it's ordering their groceries, their clothes or their gifts for a loved one or paying a bill. More and more people are online, for many of them for the first time. There are many communities who have been used to dealing in cash and now dealing and paying their bills online. And the effect of this, people know there are scams out there and it is having a big impact on confidence in in online commerce. I've spoken to people who don't know whether they should pay an electricity bill because they don't know whether it's legitimate or not. I've spoken to people who are afraid to answer a phone call that they don't recognise on their phone because they think they're going to get threatened, that they're going to be sued by a Government agency or somebody who is pretending to be a Government agency, threatening to take them to court if they don't pay a fine they don't actually have. More needs to be done.
JOURNALIST: Just a side-step question. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating was at Press Club yesterday. Do you think that he’s right about the folly of the AUKUS deal.
JONES: I think firstly, always respect what Paul's got to say. He's a good friend and colleague. We think that the whole subs duel has been appallingly handled. It's put our relationships with important allies like France at risk. We've now got a situation where the people that we need to with, not just on defence and national security, but on trade deals, now think that they cannot trust a word that the Prime Minister says because they believe he lies to them. How can we have sensible mature, diplomatic relationships with our partners and allies if they view that our Prime Minister is a liar?