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Centrelink call wait times continue to skyrocket under the Albanese Labor Government

Joint media release

Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson, Shadow Minister for Education, Senator for Victoria
The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

New figures reveal regional Victorians are waiting more than 45 minutes to speak with someone during the cost of living crisis.

New data disclosed by Services Australia show the welfare agency’s telephony performance has worsened dramatically since Labor took office. For example, Australians who call the Families and Parenting line have seen call wait times more than double under Labor.

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson, said the call wait times hurt local families.

“These wait times are a kick in the teeth to struggling Victorians who are just trying to make ends meet during this cost of living crisis,” Senator Henderson said.

“My office has received many complaints about Services Australia under this Labor government, but the pleas of local residents have fallen on deaf ears.

“I urge Victorian residents who have been impacted by any Centrelink or Medicare issue with Services Australia to get in touch, and my team will do everything we can to help you during this challenging period.”

Shadow Minister for Government Services, Paul Fletcher, said the data further demonstrates the inability of Government Services Minister Bill Shorten to improve performance at this critical agency.

“Due to a blowout in processing times for key claims, Australians need to speak with Centrelink more than ever, but they are being kept on hold for far too long,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Government Services Minister Bill Shorten boasts about hiring extra employees to address these challenges, but his record speaks for itself – he chose to reduce average staffing levels in the Budget from 28,560 to 26,692.”

The table below compares call wait times for different financial years. The average speed-to-answer figures are published as minutes and seconds and is the average time to take for a call waiting in the queue to be answered by an agency staff member.

Centrelink figures

According to the same data, from 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2023, 2,342,464 Australians chose to terminate their call with Services Australia rather than wait to speak with an agency staff member.

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