LABOR SLAMS CENTRELINK STAFFING CRISIS IN LISMORE

Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Stephen Jones MP today joined with Labor Candidate for Page Patrick Deegan in Lismore to condemn the Centrelink staffing crisis.

Shadow Minister for Regional Services Stephen Jones said: “Figures show that Centrelink average call wait times for older Australians have blown out to 23 minutes and processing times for the age pension have increased to 49 days. Yet at the same time, Page MP Kevin Hogan is sitting by while more jobs are being cut from Centrelink offices like this one in Lismore. This is a disgrace.”

Despite these waiting times, in this year’s budget, the Turnbull Government announced it would cut 1,280 jobs from Centrelink, and it has outsourced a further 1,250 jobs to labour hire.

“People in Lismore shouldn’t get stuck in a bureaucratic battle every time they try and get the support they need,” Mr Jones said.

“The truth is Centrelink is in crisis under the Turnbull Government. It's under staffed and under resourced. The Government is privatising Centrelink by stealth,” Mr Jones said.

Labor Candidate for Page, Patrick Deegan said: “There are more than 27,000 people in this electorate on the age pension – one of the highest in the country.

“Older Australians who have worked all their lives are being made to wait, on average, for two months just to have their age pensions approved. This an insult to them,” Mr Deegan said.

“That’s why I’m calling on Mr Hogan to give a guarantee there won’t be any job cuts to the Lismore Centrelink,” Mr Deegan said.

“Centrelink centres help people when they need it the most – processing aged care pensions, child care support, disability support pensions and carers allowance payments,” Mr Deegan said.

“Centrelink is a vital regional service and staff here do their best under pretty difficult conditions – but this Government’s cuts and neglect mean locals aren’t getting the service they deserve,” Mr Deegan said.

That is why Labor is calling on the Member for Page Kevin Hogan to guarantee there won’t be any jobs cut from Lismore Centrelink that would see processing times and telephone waiting times blow out even further.

It is important that Centrelink has permanent, full-time staff who are properly equipped to manage the complex issues facing income support recipients.

Instead of wasting time on the distraction of decentralisation of government departments, Mr Hogan, would be better off focusing on the real issues affecting locals like guaranteeing existing Centrelink jobs in Lismore.

Labor is committed to improving the services our communities rely on.

And we can fund this because we won’t give the big banks $17 billion.

 

CALL WAIT TIME INCREASES

Phone line

2016-17 

2017-18 as at 31 March

Older Australians

18 minutes and 59 seconds

23 minutes and 1 second 

 

PROCESSING TIME INCREASES

Payment type

2016-17

2017-18 as at 31 March

Age pension

36 days

49 days