Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Swan’s claims sent away

“Labor’s misleading claims that people are being sent to charities because of Centrelink staffing issues are simply incorrect,” Minister for Community Services Larry Anthony said today.

“The Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services has stooped to an all time low in his attacks on Centrelink and its staff.

“Centrelink helps people when they face a crisis.

“Centrelink’s policy is to see people experiencing financial hardship on the same day if possible, and only referred to charities when they have exhausted any entitlement to Government assistance.”

Mr Anthony said the average waiting time for a non-urgent appointment at Centrelink for someone applying for assistance is around three days.

“The letter referred to by Labor was from an office in a regional town where Labor only provided a visiting service two days a week,” said Mr Anthony.

“Today, Centrelink has five staff serving the town full time – a big change from a locked door and a sign saying ‘call back later’.

“I support the comments made by Senator Jocelyn Newman in today’s The Australian, that this Government is honouring our welfare responsibilities

“Most referrals from Centrelink to charities are for food vouchers and other forms of material aid.

“Referrals are only made when people have exhausted all income support entitlements.

“It is a sad reality that some people find themselves in difficulty as a result of a gambling or drug addiction problem, or domestic and family violence situations,” said Mr Anthony.

“Mr Swan would do better to keep to the facts, instead of misusing them to try and make cheap political points.

“Centrelink staff do a tremendous job, often under difficult circumstances, and deserve more than just the frequent jibes from the Shadow Minister.”