House debates

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Constituency Statements

Shortland Electorate: Centrelink

9:58 am

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

My office has been inundated with complaints from elderly people about Centrelink. There are three Centrelink offices within the Shortland electorate—one on the Central Coast and two in the Lake Macquarie part of the electorate. In fact, the Belmont Centrelink office is just behind my electorate office. People have been walking down from the Centrelink office to my office to lodge complaints that Centrelink will no longer accept their documents and no longer provide appointments. This has also been the case with the Charlestown Centrelink office. This has been a great concern, because it is an elderly electorate. Anyone needing to supply documents to Centrelink must either post the documents to an address in Canberra or open an account with Centrelink and scan the documents in and send them to that account.

As I stated, there are so many elderly people in Shortland electorate, and they are finding this really challenging. They are finding it very difficult not to be able to have face-to-face service at Centrelink. It is also raising concern within the community that maybe the government has a hidden agenda, and that hidden agenda is the closure of the Belmont Centrelink office. It is a combined Centrelink and Medicare office. When the Howard government came to power, one of their first acts was to close the Belmont Medicare office. One of our first acts that we did when we came to power in government in 2007 was plan to reopen that Medicare office in Belmont. Not only did we reopen the Medicare office but we put in a Centrelink office, which has provided an excellent venue for older people within the electorate.

This is really worrying. Charlestown Centrelink office is also unable to accept lodgements. It raises issues around whether or not this government has a plan to close both those Centrelink offices in Shortland electorate. If the officers are doing no face-to-face work with their clients, with those elderly pensioners that come in, what is the purpose of having that office? Wouldn't it be better for them to rationalise their services, close the Centrelink offices and get everything done by post? This is unacceptable. I will stand up and I will fight for these Centrelink offices to maintain these services until such time as this government gives me an undertaking that there will be no change. (Time expired)


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