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'Cardboard' Centerlink office opening stage managed by Government.

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Wayne Swan MP (Member for Lilley)

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services





Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Wayne Swan, said today’s Centrelink office opening in Tuggeranong, ACT, was an event of which the Russian soldier, Gregory Potemkin, would be justly proud.


It was said of Potemkin, the lover of Catherine the Great, that, in order to deceive foreigners, he had built cardboard villages to convey a false impression of the prosperity of the Crimea [source: Macmillan Dictionary of Biography ].


Mr Swan said the stage management of today’s event — detailed in a leaked internal Centrelink memo (attached) - was textbook Potemkin.


“The memo details how extra staff (understood to be at least five) were to be bused in on the morning of the opening to ‘keep the reception line to a minimum,” Mr Swan said.


“The memo also says that ‘all boxes are to be emptied and a clean desk policy will be in force’.


“It appears that the art of deception as practised by Potemkin in the Century is alive and well with the Howard Government — when nothing else works, put up a facade.


“Sadly, the problems with Centrelink are all too real.


“The Minister for Community Services, Warren Truss, bumbled blindly in Question Time this afternoon failing to answer the question put to him on the extra staff being bused in to put on a show.


“The Tuggeranong office is well known for long waiting lists — the latest figures showing a three week wait.


“In a desperate attempt to downplay the current crisis in Centrelink, this morning’s events show yet again that the Government is arrogant and out of touch.


“The situation is clearly beyond crisis point. The Government must take responsibility and provide Centrelink with extra resources and staff to meet the needs of the elderly, families and the unemployed.”




Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 

Matt Linden on 0414 953525

MONDAY 22 March 1999





Tuggeranong ’s official opening is scheduled for Monday 22 March at 11.00am. The proceedings will run for approximately one hour.


Minister Truss will be officiating. There are 52 people invited. These include Sue Vardon, Ross Divett, Robyn Marriott as well as other politicians, Job Network Members etc. I will leave a list of invitees in the tearoom if you are interested.


The office has to look professional. This means that all boxes are to be emptied and a clean desk policy will be in force. Dress standard will of course be in line with current policy.


It will be ‘business as usual’ on the day of the opening. We will have some help from other offices. They will be focussed on keeping the reception line to a minimum.


Light refreshments will be available. If there are enough goodies we may offer some to customers are the ‘main’ event has finished.


If you want any more info, see me.


Debbie B

16 March 1999