Monday, 24 February 2014
Shortland Electorate: Human Services
Last week I was visited by management officers from the Department of Human Services in my electorate. They advised me that there was a plan—and this plan is well down the path of coming to fruition—of moving the Medicare office from Charlestown Square, which is a major shopping centre within Shortland electorate, and co-locating it with the Centrelink office, which is in a very difficult place for people to access.
I do not know about the offices of other members in this House, but my office has been inundated with complaints that people are waiting for extraordinarily long periods to access services in Centrelink and being told to go away and make a phone call to Centrelink rather than have their problems dealt with at the time of their visit. The fact that, in an electorate where there are a lot of older people, the government are moving the Medicare office from a very accessible place to an office which is already overworked with long waiting times and people becoming very frustrated shows that this government are not thinking and do not care about people. The Centrelink office is located on a very busy road, and, combined with the problem of trying to find parking in the area, the new location is going to be impossible for elderly people.
I call on the government to reverse their decision to move Medicare from Charlestown square—a very busy, easy and accessible shopping centre—to an inaccessible, large, busy Centrelink office. Centrelink is already struggling under a government which has inflicted cuts on the agency and is upping its workload. With the increasing number of people in unemployment lines and this government's failure to have any sort of job plan in place, the decision to relocate the Medicare office will only cause harm and hardship to the people I represent. It follows the action that the Howard government took when they were elected and closed the Medicare office at Belmont. It took a Labor government to reopen it. Labor listens to people, but this coalition government is all about cuts and causing hardship to people.