Labor Keeps Vulnerable Australians on Hold in Lindsay

The Federal Member for Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh MP, is calling on the Albanese Labor Government to explain why Australians are being kept on hold by Services Australia, with new figures obtained by the Opposition revealing that Centrelink call waiting times have skyrocketed. 

The following table compares average speed of answer (the average time it takes for a call waiting in the queue to be answered) figures for different demographics at Services Australia between the two most recent financial years.

Demographic Category

Average Speed of Answer for FY 2021-2022 (minutes: seconds)

Average Speed of Answer for FY 2022 to 31 March 2023 (minutes: seconds)

Disabilities, Sickness and Carers

20:59

28:32

Employment Services

24:55

29:29

Families and Parenting

24:45

31:24

Older Australians

21:30

28:11

 

 “Locals in Lindsay should be rightly concerned about the dropping customer service levels to access the assistance during the time that they now urgently need more than ever in this cost of living crisis,” said Mrs McIntosh. 

“Families in my community, our aged pensioners, and our disabled people, deserve to have a reasonable wait time to gain help and information, and not to be left waiting on hold for an excessive time.

“This demonstrates that the Labor Government is unable to properly support the administration of Service Australia to cope with the unprecedented demand in the cost of living crisis.

“It shows that this Labor Government is not capable of giving aid to those during this time who most likely have never held their hands out for help before and has not addressed this issue in the Budget. 

“This new data confirms that call wait times have skyrocketed under Labor. The Albanese Government must carry out a comprehensive review of Services Australia’s operations to determine the reasons for this worrying pattern.

“The Albanese Government demonstrably doesn’t want to listen to our most vulnerable Australians – they would rather put them on hold. Numbers don’t lie and these ones paint a grim picture of an agency that isn’t performing.

“Services Australia is the front door for important programs such as child support payments, age and disability pensions, and Medicare. The Government Services Minister Bill Shorten needs to put processes in place to ensure customers in Lindsay are not adversely impacted.” 

Shadow Minister for Government Services, Paul Fletcher MP, said the figures follow recent revelations that Services Australia chose not to renew a $343 million contract with welfare agency Serco, with more than 600 call centre staff set to lose their jobs.

“To deliver first class services you need to invest in staffing and talent. Services Australia’s woes come as no surprise given decisions like this,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Mr Shorten needs to be honest with the public and explain how many of those 600 plus jobs have transitioned into employment within the Australian Public Service, what this has cost and how he plans to address the blow out in call wait times with a staffing shortfall.”

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