It has never been more important for the social security safety net to be strong in this country.
Labor has put pressure on the Liberal Government to provide better resourcing and staffing for Centrelink. Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones campaigned strongly against the closure of the Warrawong Medicare Office in 2018/2019. The Liberals have consistently ignored Labor’s calls to stop cutting staff and resources.
Many families, workers and business owners who have never accessed social security before are being forced to by the financial effects of the coronavirus.
People should not have to wait weeks to access these vital payments.
But at this hour of need Australians are having to grapple with inadequate service, online glitches, and a lack of planning to deal with demand at Centrelink shopfronts.
Around the Illawarra there are queues around the block at Centrelink offices as first-time social security recipients are told they can only get a Customer Reference Number by going into shopfronts in person.
And online myGov has once again crashed despite demand being entirely foreseeable.
Government Services Minister Stuart Robert must do better.
He must ensure Centrelink services - online and in person - are working now when Australians need them most.