Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Centrelink better resourced, more efficient

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Wayne Swan and Commonwealth Public Service Union President, Mark Gepp have today brazenly turned Centrelink staff into a political football, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony said.

“The Labor Party and the Union have shown that there is no limit to what they will do or say to score a political point. They should be deeply embarrassed by their blatant grandstanding at the expense of Centrelink’s staff and their misleading statements that are fast and loose with the truth.

“Since it’s creation in 1996, Centrelink has become a much better place for staff and customers than the old Department of Social Security the Labor Party presided over.

“The Government has resourced Centrelink to administer high quality services to its diverse range of customers. Contrary to Mr Swan’s claims, Centrelink’s core funding has increased from $1.6 billion in 1997 to $2.1 billion this year.

“There have been significant improvements in customer service including more points of contact across the country and more personalised service.

“The Government has made significant investment and advances in Centrelink’s technology to improve timeliness of processing claims and accuracy levels. Accuracy of Centrelink’s payments is at a record high of 96.7 per cent.

“New Government initiatives are supported by increases to staffing numbers with the current staff number of around 25,000. There is a fluctuation every year of a small number of staff to support the implementation of new measures and at peak times.

“The Government also takes the security of Centrelink staff and customers very seriously. However, contrary to Mr Swan’s claims today, there has been a decrease in the number of reported incidents of customer aggression since late 2003. There has also been a significant reduction in the incidents where police have been called.

“The Government is always looking to improve Centrelink’s service delivery. As I announced earlier this week, there is a comprehensive restructure currently happening within Centrelink to further improve efficiency and develop more specialist staff,”  Mr Anthony said