New Centrelink jobs fight

Liberal senator Jonathon Duniam has defended new Centrelink jobs interstate as Labor and workers argue for more permanent jobs in Tasmania.

The federal government has announced 1500 staff will be employed by private companies to cut waiting times in the Department of Human Services including Centrelink.

Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said outsourcing work was not the answer.

“We need more properly paid and trained staff in secure jobs, so that our community is provided with the service it deserves,”​ Mr Hart said.

“Under the Turnbull Government instead of creating permanent jobs, we have seen 40 labour hire staff recently put on at Centrelink in Launceston and six have already left.

“We know that labour hire arrangements don’t work, particularly for regional communities.”

However, Senator Duniam welcomed the new jobs.

“Despite the commentary from Labor, this is actually good news – 1500 more staff to complement the existing workforce – more staff, means better service delivery for people in need,” Senator Duniam said.

“Let’s not forget the previous Labor government cut nearly 5000 staff, that is 5000 jobs, from the Department of Human Services during their last term in office.

“Let’s compare the records, over 8 per cent unemployment rate under Labor, just under 6 per cent under the Coalition government.”

“Of course, I would like to see more jobs here in Tasmania, and that is something I have been calling for as part of the decentralisation process, and I will continue to work on this.”

Community and Public Sector Union regional secretary Madeline Northam said it was not unexpected that none of the new jobs were in Tasmania.

“Tasmania always misses out on privatised jobs that most likely go to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but that is not a bad thing,” Ms Northam said.

“We are fighting for permanent, decent and secure public service jobs.

“We won’t be distracted by this smoke and mirrors announcement by the government.”

Ms Northam said there were 5000 jobs in the Department of Human Services that needed to be staffed.

“We need all those jobs filled,” she said.

“There are plenty of empty Centrelink desks in Tasmania.

“We don’t need privatised jobs where people are paid $20 an hour and get just a few hours training.”

Ms Northam said public servants had detailed knowledge of relevant legislation which callers to Centrelink needed to know.

Mr Hart said thousands of hardworking and vulnerable people in northern Tasmania relied on assistance provided by Centrelink.

“Accessing Centrelink is becoming more complex, particularly for older and less digitally literate Tasmanians,” he said.

“People have long and frustrating wait times on the phone.”