Monday, 2 March 2020

The Morrison Government is still not managing to present itself in a good light in 2020

Dissatisfaction with the Morrison Government appears to be widespread....

The offices were identified as a national call centre, service centre and administrative centre.

At the time Centrelink denied it was moving out of the region.

But less than three months later, on 22 Februrary 2020, Centrelink announced it was indeed closing its Tweed Heads office.

Branches at Newcastle and Newport in New South Wales and Mornington in Victoria will also close their doors.

This news was reported as far away as the UK:

Some offices will be replaced with a so-called 'agency' or kiosk that will be staffed by one person.

Each day more than 66,000 people walk into Centrelink offices around the country.

This is being dwarfed by the amount of people who access government services online, with half a million people logging into the MyGov website each day.

Former opposition leader Bill Shorten has claimed the closing of some Centrelink locations is a move by the government to cover costs in other areas at the expense of citizens.

'This government's more interested in band aiding a dodgy budget surplus and it's going to do it by shafting everyday Centrelink users,' Mr Shorten said.

Services Australia, which oversees Centrelink, said in its annual report that it is trying to 'maximise the benefits of digital capabilities while reducing the costs of administering payments'…..

In Mornington, Mayor Sam Hearn told 9 News that he is furious. He says 35,000 people in the area could be worse off when the local branch closes at the end of the next month. Mr Hearn is now urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene.

Given Mornington is in Australian Minister for Health, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet & Liberal MP for Flinders Greg Hunt’s electorate, the mayor’s fury may yet be translated into action by his local member who appears to have been as much in the dark about these closure as everyone else.

However, the residents of Tweed Heads and environs have little chance of their dismay registering with Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook, ‘Scotty From Marketing’ Morrison, as Tweed Heads is in a federal electorate which has been held by the same Labor MP for the last fifteen years and six federal elections.

The Daily Examiner, 22 February 2020:

DAVE and Jan Binskin are in quarantine in “a sh-thole” in Darwin. After being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship where two people died and 620 people tested positive for coronavirus, the Casino couple and 170 other Australians are in another 14 days’ quarantine in a mining compound.

They were on the ship in Japan when the Australian Government notified them they could return to Australia, but face further quarantine.

The conditions at the compound are terrible, Mr Binskin said. “Morrison conned us. They didn't prepare for us and the people opposite us didn't even have water for six hours,” he said.

Their quarantine sounds more like a prison.

They locked us into an area with double fences around us and then decided it was a fire risk and took down the fences,” he said.

The Binskins were excited to be going back to Australia, he said, but conditions were worse than on the boat.

They have single beds, the room is unclean, the TVs don’t work and they’re not allowed to have alcohol, Mr Binskin said.

We were told they didn't want the old people drinking and falling over,” he said.

We can’t use the pool, we don't even have a garbage bin and some people don’t even have bed linen.” The couple tested negative for coronavirus.

The government has forgotten about us,” Mr Binskin said in a flat voice. With nothing to do in the compound, Mr Binskin said his wife Jan liked knitting and providing her with wool and needles would help.

It’s against human rights,” he said.

Had they disembarked in Japan they would have been free to leave, but were told they would be looked after in Australia.

They didn’t prepare for us,” Mr Binskin said…...

He said many people at the compound had received letters from their local member of parliament.“We’ve heard nothing from Kevin Hogan (Member for Page),” Mr Binskin said.

ABC News, 23 February 2020:

The Country Women's Association (CWA) has slammed the Federal Government over its drought assistance, describing the latest funding announcement as "disappointing, infuriating, insulting and disrespectful".

But the CWA said despite repeatedly seeking more federal funding for its drought programs since September, it only learned of the voucher announcement on Wednesday evening.

"It was a total disregard, it's disrespectful ... it would have been nice to have been consulted," national president Tanya Cameron said.

"It's very disappointing. It's actually infuriating. It's very annoying. I'm really quite angry.

"It's quite insulting and it's disrespectful to an organisation that has been around as long as ours has."

The CWA has written to the Government to say it will not be participating in the outreach program as it is currently proposed.

It said its state branches did not support the process of administering $500 vouchers at public events, such as barbecues or roadshows, as they understood the Government intended.

"We've explained to the Federal Government on a number of occasions very clearly why, for NSW, the vouchers don't work," CWA NSW chief executive Danica Leys said.

"I don't think the provision of assistance in this way should be tied to having to attend an event to get it."

In New South Wales, the CWA has distributed more than $16 million of drought aid in recent years, directly depositing funding in the recipients' bank accounts.

"People are given the dignity and respect to make the decision they need to make," Ms Leys said of the CWA system.

"Obviously someone in the federal bureaucracy thinks they know better how to get it out.

"If they know how to get it out, then they should perhaps think about doing it themselves before verballing us and telling us that they're partnering with us.

Ms Ley said there were many questions around the logistics of how people would get the vouchers.

"We absolutely support further investment into drought-affected communities, and vouchers can be helpful for some people, but a $500 voucher at the outset is quite minimal in nature," she said.

"That is not what is needed ... not to sound ungrateful, but more than that is needed."……

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