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Centrelink cutback rumours contradict Coalition's renewed social & regional focus - Andren



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press release Page 1 of 1

5 November 1998

Centrelink cutback rumours contradict Coalition's renewed social & regional focus - Andren

Member for Calare Peter Andren says that if confirmed, reports that the Department of Social Security is preparing to sack up to 6000 staff from Centrelink offices around Australia make a mockery of the Government's renewed social and regional focus.

Centrelink is the Commonwealth Government's 'One Stop Shop' responsible for the delivery of income support and other services to the unemployed, students, the elderly and disabled.

"I was shocked to hear reports overnight that the Department of Social Security is planning to shed so many more staff from Centrelink Offices and that most of the cuts are planned for rural and regional areas.

I presume this includes Lithgow, Bathurst and Orange," Mr Andren said.

"I thought the Prime Minister had given a commitment soon after the election that during this term of Government the Coalition would strike a better balance between social and economic policy," he said.

"If these reports, apparently based on leaks from the Department are confirmed I will be seriously questioning the sincerity of such statements," Mr Andren said.

Reports of the proposed cuts came on the same day that the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) released results of a survey showing that community welfare agencies are reaching crisis point.

"With persistently high unemployment and a recession a real possibility it simply doesn't make sense to add another 6000 to the dole cues and at the same time cut services to the most disadvantaged people in our communities," Mr Andren said.

"The proposals are even harder to believe, when from local feedback, it is already clear that Centrelink is struggling to provide an adequate service due to its increased responsibilities," he said.

"Apart from implementing many reforms to legislation it already administered, Centrelink has taken over responsibility for Youth Allowance, AUSTUDY for those over 25, the assessment and referral role for the New Job Network and the aspects of the AAA Farm Package," Mr Andren said.

For more information: phone 6332 6229.

Eds. The Department of Social Security is set to notify Centrelink staff of its plans through a satellite link on Monday.

http://www.lisp.com.au/~andrenp/newsroom/05novcentrelinkcuts.html 09/03/1999