Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Minister puts public on hold.

Download WordDownload Word



Wayne swan MP

(Member for Lilley)

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services


Minister puts Public on Hold


Despite the fact that 81.5% of customers get a busy signal when calling Centrelink, the Minister for Community Services, Warren Truss, is completely indifferent - arrogantly saying in Question Time today that the delays were ‘inevitable’.


“It seems the Minister is content to put the public on hold,” Shadow Minister for Family & Community Services, Wayne Swan, said today.


Centrelink officials have confirmed the Centrelink’s phone system is gridlocked, with over 5.2 million callers (81.5%) between 18 January and 5 February receiving an engaged signal rather than the assistance they needed. And for those who tried to get around the gridlocked phone lines delays of up to ten days can be expected for appointments with Centrelink staff.




Mr Swan said the Howard Government’s savage $154 million funding cuts and 5,000 staff cuts were to blame.


“During a time of increasing demand, the Howard Gove rnment has slashed the number of Centrelink counter-staff and failed to provide the teleservice with the resources it needs to get the job done,” Mr Swan said.


“Further, the massive staff shortage will mean the Government’s new programs for the family and numeracy and literacy for the unemployed won’t even get off the ground.


“The Howard Government should realise that human beings are not a Telstra bill to be processed, rubber stamped, and folded up in ten seconds. Centrelink deals with human problems which require skilled and dedicated staff who can offer clients support and assistance during times of adversity and hardship.”




15 February 1999


For further information call Matt Linden on 0418 795 329