The Federal Opposition has been going on for months now about what a joke it was that Labor's $900 spending bonus payment was going to dead people and people living overseas. It was a natural attempt to portray the Government as a spendthrift not fit to control the public purse but while it got an occasional run in the media it failed to become a major talking point. The loot in the hand was a far greater influence on public opinion than concern about sending good money after dead bodies. But just when Malcolm Turnbull and his team must have just about been ready to give up on this particular line of attack, along came Steve Lewis whose copy appears in all of the Murdoch tabloids which makes him potentially the most influential newspaper journo in the country and certainly the one with the biggest readership.
The Lewis report rediscovered the dead men paid angle with the aid of what he described as "confidential" tax office documents putting the cost of paying the $900 tax bonus to 16,000 dead people and 27,000 expats living overseas at $40 million. "Despite racking up more than $300 billion in debt," he wrote, "the Government is sending about $25 million in bonus payments to people living overseas. Even non-Australians who worked here for at least six months – but then left – have received the cash payment."