“I know call wait times at Centrelink can be long at times, the average call wait time at present is about 12 minutes. Obviously that’s an average, it means sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes it’s longer. People can also go to a Centrelink office and typically they’ll be able to see a person in person in 10 minutes.” -- Minister Alan Tudge on RN Breakfast, January 11, 2017
You would be forgiven for choking on your Weetbix while listening to Human Services Minister Alan Tudge telling the ABC that waiting on hold to talk to someone at Centrelink can be long "at times" and that it is possible to see a Centrelink staff member within 10 minutes. Especially now it has been revealed that front-line Centrelink staff have been explicitly told not to deal with disputed debts from the government's automated data-matching system. Tudge's comments sounded like they came from someone who had not blocked out hours of his day to have a conversation that lasted 10 minutes, or to just hand in a form to go on file. Anecdotal reports show that people are calling Centrelink hundreds of times, getting cut off and spending hours on hold. Studies show that in the 2014-15 financial year more than 22 million calls went unanswered.