Monday, 17 September 2018
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
My question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services. Frank, aged 68, applied for the pension in November last year. In March, after nine months of no income, he called my office seeking urgent assistance. Due to serious health issues, Wayne, aged 69, applied for the pension last December. Financially and emotionally distressed, in March he called my office after waiting over four months for Centrelink to approve his application. Minister, I have so many cases like Frank and Wayne. Our older Australians deserve better than this. What undertakings will you make to urgently address the delayed Centrelink processing of age pension applications?
I thank the member for the question. Firstly, at the outset, if there are any individual cases that she wishes to raise, the best thing to do, as members on this side of the House and members on that side of the House do, is to raise them directly with my office.
Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting—
When individual cases are raised with me, or my office, obviously we make every effort to intervene to make sure that people get the outcomes that they deserve. In regard to this, if the member wants to see me after question time, I'm very happy to look into the cases that she has raised with me.
But, in general, this is what is happening within my department. When we came to office, the Labor Party, between 2007 and 2013, had cut 4,800 people from the Department of Human Services. We, as always, are the ones who are fixing up that mess. I am getting an extra 2,750 people contracted within my department to be able to address these issues to make sure that, when people call, the phones are answered quickly and people can deal with their questions and get them the responses they deserve. Processing times are improving because of the extra resources that we have put into the department. They will continue to improve as those extra resources come online. But I say to every member of this chamber: if there is an individual case that has been brought to you then, please, come to us, raise it with us and we can fix it.