At a time when over one million Australians may be forced onto welfare, it has never been more important for the social security safety net to be strong in this country.
Many families, workers and business owners who have never accessed social security before are being forced to by the financial effects of the coronavirus.
Over the last two days, I’ve heard many stories from my constituents who are suffering from inadequate service, online glitches, and a lack of planning to deal with demand at Centrelink shopfronts.
Due to the number of people needing assistance, one of our local Centrelink offices was forced to close its doors at 8.45am on Monday – 15 minutes after opening – and only allowed a certain number of people in at a time to comply with social distancing requirements.
There were lengthy queues out the front of the building for the rest of the day.
Yesterday I received a call from an elderly constituent who sadly has cancer.
He has a problem with his Newstart and went to the Centrelink office at Charlestown at 8am on Tuesday morning, and there were already 40 people in front of him.
Due to his condition, he could not stand in the line for that long so had no other option but to go home.
I’ve heard from people who have tried to call Centrelink and have been left on hold for hours.
One constituent told me that he’d been on hold for two and a half hours, only to hear a recorded message say ‘we can’t take your call at the moment’.
His call was then disconnected.
And of course, the online myGov has once again crashed despite demand being entirely foreseeable.
This is unacceptable.
Our people deserve better.
The Morrison Government must ensure Centrelink services - online and in-person - are working now when Australians need them most.