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Another Tudge fudge, Centrelink phone waiting times see people wait even longer

24 May 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton

Centrelink clients ringing to report their income or clarify their responsibilities are waiting up to 35 minutes just to have calls answered, and possibly even longer on hold after that new data from Senate Estimates reveals.In response to Question on Notice asked during senate estimates hearings earlier this year the department has confirmed that job seekers spent an average of 35 minutes waiting for their calls to be answered in January while those with disabilities and their carers could expect to wait over 31 minutes.
Under questioning in January last year Mr Tudge told journalists that;
“The average call wait time at present is about 12 minutes. Obviously that's an average, it means that sometimes it's shorter, sometimes it's longer”
Alan Tudge, RN Breakfast ABC Radio National, 11 January 2017
The actual data shows most callers waited over double that amount of time and doesn’t include calls which simply cannot get through, that means people having difficulty reporting their incomes or wanting to clarify their responsibilities are facing an uphill battle.
Alan Tudge is in total denial about the state of his department - whether its robo-debt, or claims processing times or phone wait times, all we get is spin. What is it going to take for Mr Tudge to see the mess he has created at Centrelink and do something to fix it?
For all of the Turnbull government’s tough talk about welfare cheats they are simply making it harder for people to get in contact with Centrelink when their circumstances change. This is a kick in the guts for age pensioners who have already seen their pensions cut or for those with disabilities who are already being painted as bludgers by the Turnbull government.
This wilful blindness has to end - being creative with the facts might get you out of a tough media interview but it will do nothing for honest Australians just trying to do the right thing.
Something has gone terribly wrong at Centrelink, Mr Tudge needs to admit that and get to work fixing it.