Centrelink sell-off won’t fix Turnbull Government cuts

The CPSU says the announcement that another 1,000 private call centre operators will be contracted to Centrelink will not fix the problems caused by the Turnbull Government’s damaging cuts to the agency.

Minister for Human Services Michael Keenan has today announced what will be 1,000 low-paid and insecure jobs, on top of the 250 positions currently generating a profit for multinational company Serco.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “We’ve been calling loudly for years for more permanent Centrelink call centre staff to replace the more than 5,000 jobs the Turnbull Government has slashed in this department. Instead the Government is continuing to sell the agency off piece by piece, lining the pockets of their corporate mates like Serco rather than putting that money into wages and secure jobs for call centre workers.”

“Centrelink service standards have been falling since the first day of this Government. You don’t need to be Einstein to see that cutting 5,000 jobs – and they’re still cutting more even today – and then adding 1,250 privatised positions through a profit-making multinational isn’t going to fix this.”

“Our members in Centrelink are telling us the Serco call centre is being used to fudge the damning stats on wait times and missed calls to Centrelink rather than actually improving the situation for people trying to get their situation resolved. Serco’s role is to answer as many calls as possible, and actually helping clients takes more time, more training and gets in the way of that.”

“Outsourcing like this isn’t just bad for Centrelink clients but for the people employed by Serco and other profit-making providers when they should have permanent jobs directly with the department. Serco workers have told us about their poor working conditions, low wages and completely inadequate training. These people are being paid less so Serco can profit more.”  

“Today’s announcement is another example of what’s a damaging and cynical tactic often employed by conservative politicians. The Turnbull Government has cut and cut at Centrelink and is now trying to use the appalling service standards it has caused as justification for privatising a critical public service. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit continues to uncover damning examples across Commonwealth agencies of this Government’s addiction to inefficient and opaque arrangements using contractors, consultants and labour hire.”