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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 713


Mr HART (Bass) (13:33): In yet another example of the government's failure to effectively manage the administration of public services, the rate of complaints around Medicare refund delays in Bass has significantly increased over the last few months. From Scottsdale to George Town and Launceston, Medicare delays are an issue that I am consistently made aware of as I am out and about in the electorate.

No longer can my constituents visit the local Medicare office to lodge a claim. Now, the only options for them in applying for a refund are either online or via a paper form dropped into the box at Centrelink—in several cases never to be seen again!

This system seems to be causing the most difficulties for pensioners and the elderly. Many of them do not have the technology or inclination to navigate the myGov site, nor to wait indefinitely in the Centrelink office for assistance. Once a claim has been lodged, people are experiencing delays of weeks and even months before their refund reaches their bank account. I have heard firsthand too many stories of people being left short by the delay, often putting them in the situation of having to ask family or friends for assistance, or simply going without. I recently met with a constituent from George Town whose visit to a specialist and subsequent delay in Medicare refund meant she was unable to do any grocery shopping for two weeks.

This is a disgraceful situation brought about by an underresourced public service and the failure of this government to prioritise effective management of the public services that support our communities.