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MEDIA RELEASE - SERVICES AUSTRALIA STAFF SPLURGE AN ADMISSION OF FAILURE BY BILL SHORTEN
PAUL FLETCHER MP
Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts
Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy
Manager of Opposition Business in the House
6 November 2023
SERVICES AUSTRALIA STAFF SPLURGE AN ADMISSION OF FAILURE BY BILL SHORTEN
Government Services Minister Bill Shorten’s announcement that Labor will splurge $228 million of taxpayer’s money to hire 3000 more public servants is an admission of how he has failed to competently manage Services Australia in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
Bill Shorten’s failure has seen average wait times for payments and services skyrocket:
- The average call wait time on the Employment Services Line have blown out to 53 minutes and 26 seconds this financial year to date as at August 2023, compared to 24 minutes and 55 seconds under the Coalition in the 2021-22 financial year.
- It’s taking on average 98 days for a Child Care Subsidy-related payment to be processed this financial year to date as at August 2023, compared to 39 days under the Coalition in the 2021-22 financial year.
Shadow Minister for Government Services Paul Fletcher said the staffing announcement reeked of desperation from an underperforming Minister.
“Whether it be spiralling NDIS costs or the surging wait times at Services Australia, Bill Shorten has failed to get a grip on his own portfolios,” Mr Fletcher said.
“Bill Shorten has tried to blame wait time blowouts on anyone but himself - he’s tried to point the finger at a so-called ‘decade of Coalition cuts’.
“This nonsensical explanation ignores the fact that he slashed average staffing levels in this year’s Budget and has presided over, according to data reluctantly disclosed by own agency, a surge in call and processing wait times.
“Bill Shorten has failed to come up with any new ideas for using digital channels to serve Australians better, despite clear evidence that Australians vastly prefer doing their business with Services Australia via digital means.
“There were 1.1 billion digital interactions with Services Australia last financial year: 20 times as many as there were phone calls, 110 times as many as there were face to face engagements at service centres.
“But Bill Shorten has just defaulted, like the former union secretary and unimaginative Labor hack that he is, to employing more bureaucrats.
“Innovative digital service offerings to address spiralling wait times are nowhere to be seen under this government.
“This is in stark contrast to the former Coalition Government which implemented practical reforms, such as the use of voiceprints and digital assistants, to make dealing with Services Australia more efficient.
“And it is in stark contrast to the way that a Coalition Government in NSW transformed the experience of citizens by establishing Service NSW with a relentless focus on driving better customer service.
“Of course, last year Bill Shorten fired 1000 specialist ICT staff and funding for ‘Technology and Transformation’ decreased by almost $200 million, gutting Services Australia’s capacity to deliver new and innovative digital services.
“The Opposition repeats its persistent call for an urgent, root and branch review of Services Australia and will use tomorrow’s extraordinary recalling of agency officials at Senate Estimates to scrutinise the struggling agency and its incompetent Minister.”
CENTRELINK PAYMENT PROCESSING TIMES
Media contact: William Sparling | 0416 628 276 | [email protected]