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Services Australia strike to impact the most vulnerable in regional Victoria

Joint media release

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

Vital Centrelink and Medicare services and payments to customers in regional Victoria could be disrupted if a planned union-led strike at Services Australia goes ahead on Monday 9 October.

According to media reports it could involve almost 30 per cent of Services Australia’s 34,000 strong workforce.

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson, said the strike is another example of an embattled agency which is out of control.

“Services Australia is in crisis under Government Services Minister Bill Shorten,” Senator Henderson said.

“We know that Services Australia provides a range of supports to the most vulnerable in our community and it would be unacceptable for these services to be disrupted by the strike, especially in this cost of living crisis.”

“Federal Labor MPs across Victoria must explain which services in the local area will be affected and what will be done to cater for those who require assistance on Monday.”

“For Services Australia to simply say they are ‘making preparations to minimise potential disruption to our customers’ isn’t good enough.”

“The public deserve to know the facts, including exactly what services will be adversely impacted, whether claims processing will be pushed out, and what local service centres will be disrupted.”

Services Australia is fast becoming a basket case under Labor.

  • • Centrelink call wait times have blown out, with the average time taken to connect to the Employment Services line at over 29 minutes;
  • • Last month, a top Services Australia boss publicly conceded that the agency was “understaffed in our service delivery”;
  • • Average staffing levels at the agency have been cut, from 28,560 in 2020-2023 to 26,692 in 2023-2024;
  • • Bill Shorten has refused to hand over the latest claims processing data for Medicare and Centrelink, refused a lawful FOI request and provided overdue Questions on Notice; and
  • • Bill Shorten has also been missing in action on vital reforms to digital ID and he has failed to respond to the MyGov User Audit, which was handed to him in January.

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy Paul Fletcher said: “If Services Australia is to get back on track, there needs to be a root and branch review of this critical agency, with a strong focus on how to improve customer service, drive digital transformation and better understand the expectations of customers.”

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