House debates

Monday, 20 August 2018

Statements by Members


1:42 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

The current excess waiting times for age pension applications are unnecessary, cruel and, I believe, disrespectful. I know of many constituents waiting several months for their applications to be approved. One constituent applied for the age pension in July 2017. By early October, she was experiencing significant financial hardship due to also having a cancer diagnosis. Three months later, despite pleading with Centrelink, her application was still waiting to be processed. Eventually, she contacted my office. We were able to fast-track her application. What about all of those who don't think to contact their member of parliament? Over 1.5 million Australians rely solely on the age pension. The prolonged waiting periods for pensions are only matched by the enormous waiting list for home care packages.

How can we treat our elderly Australians like this? Why are we doing this? The government needs to ensure that, when you are applying for an age pension, your matter is dealt with with respect and efficiency. Waiting up to six months for the age pension after you've spent the majority of your life paying taxes is simply unacceptable. So I urge the government to give our older Australians the respect they so richly deserve. For so many of the people who are applying for age pensions, it's their first contact with Centrelink and it is a shambles. I would urge the government: please, put on more staff, particularly in the age pension area, so that if a person needs a pension they get it straightaway. (Time expired)