Thousands of dollars owed to the government has been left sitting for years – because no one has bothered to look.
Thousands of dollars owed to the government has been left sitting for years – because no one has bothered to look.

‘Secret’ stash of public money just left sitting there

THOUSANDS of dollars owed to State Government ­departments and Brisbane City Council has been sitting on the unclaimed money register of the Public Trustee for years - because no one has bothered to look.

And it isn't the Public Trustee's job to tell them the cash is sitting waiting to be claimed.

The Public Trustee receives unclaimed money from public and private organisations or from deceased estates.

A search of its unclaimed money register by The Sunday Mail revealed cash owed to Brisbane City Council, and Commonwealth and State Government departments including Child Safety.

For example, the Department of Community Safety has $2520 sitting there since 2015. The "sender" is listed as the Queensland Government.

There is also $445 waiting to be claimed for the Premiers Disaster Relief Appeal, lodged in March last year.

More than two dozen entries for Brisbane City Council range from just a few cents to thousands of dollars.

For example, waiting to be collected is more than $5000 from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries dating back to 2014, and ironically $6279 from the Public Trustee of Queensland's Finance Program from 2013.

A BCC spokeswoman said the council was aware of the funds and was in the process of collecting it.

The Public Trustee said organisations must try to locate the owner of the funds before they lodge it with the trustee.

"It is incumbent of entities to undertake due diligence and return any money to the rightful owner before lodging funds with the Public Trustee as Unclaimed Money," a spokeswoman said.

"The process of lodging bulk entries is automated, with organisations loading entries directly into the Unclaimed Money Register."

And then it's up to the organisation, person or department to go looking for it.

There is $159 million in unclaimed money available to claim, with the Public Trustee receiving about 3000 claims a year and paying on average 50 claims a week.

Originally published as 'Secret' stash of public money just left sitting there


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