LIBERAL DYSFUNCTION AND DISUNITY AFFECTS LOCALS

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:29): It is increasingly obvious to all of us, I'm sure, in our local electorate offices that the dysfunction and the disunity that have been the hallmark of this government over recent times are having a direct impact on their ability to do their day job and deliver the services that our local constituents need.

This level of dysfunction is having real impacts across a number of portfolio areas, and we are seeing it in our offices. In this section of the parliament, where we get to talk about the issues that our constituents are raising, I want to highlight just four of those issues, where my constituents are, quite honestly, at their wits' end with the incompetence of the government in their programs.

First of all, there has been this constant round of cuts to Public Service jobs. The result of that is being seen in major problems for local constituents. We first had the whole range of robo-debt errors. I'm sure many colleagues would have had people in tears in their offices after getting these debt notices, when a significant proportion of them were actually wrong. They were very distressing to local people. This was exacerbated by the fact that the Public Service has been cut and it's much more difficult for people to talk to someone directly to get the matter resolved. In fact, in my own area the government have closed an entire office, at Warrawong, in the middle of some of the most disadvantaged suburbs. They've closed the Centrelink and Medicare office. That sort of decision just exacerbates the stress and problems for very vulnerable people. There has also been the loss of around 30 jobs from the debt recovery unit that operates out of Wollongong, removing more expertise and creating more of a problem.

The second area I want to touch on in the short amount of time I have is the government's incompetent management of citizenship applications. I am increasingly dealing with people, every week, who have been waiting over a year to get their citizenship approved and to be able to take up citizenship. One would think, when people are committed and dedicated to our local communities, to our nation, and want to take on citizenship, we should be facilitating and supporting that. But no; we're making it all so difficult that some of them are waiting over a year.

The third issue is the mismanagement of home care packages. I continue to have people who have been assessed as needing a level 4 package—over 1,200 in my region—who cannot get the funding and access to the package that they need.

Finally is the constant number of constituents I've had to assist because of the mismanagement of the NDIS rollout. This is something that people had looked forward to for a long time. It is very important to those families. The cuts to the staffing, the lack of support and the mismanagement are affecting their daily life.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.