The Prime Minister has been talking a lot about aspiration this week, but what about the older Australians in my community who have worked hard all their lives and now aspire to the age pension that they deserve? Some in my community have been aspiring to the age pension for seven months. The government admits to a delay of 49 days, but seven months is a lot longer than that.
Chris in my electorate applied for the pension in December, but when he contacted my office last week it had still not been processed. The issue, he was told, was that he had not provided details of his wife's business, yet he had sent the paperwork off multiple times. Fortunately, my office was able to intervene and the claim was processed. But Chris said that if it weren't for growing his own vegetables, he has no idea how he would have survived.
Denise and Steven applied for their pensions in early November, and I'm appalled that they are still not processed. There's no question they're eligible. Their claims were approved back in May. The problem is that after seven months, when they were finally approved, an extremely large back pay amount had accrued, and Steven has been told it's too large for the system to process. So they aren't being paid at all, and the amount they are owed is increasing. This is appalling and shows the insurmountable battle Centrelink staff are facing. We know Centrelink is understaffed and under-resourced, and staff are working overtime. Yet this government continues to cut jobs from Centrelink—another 1,280 this year—with no regard for the Australians waiting for youth allowance, carer’s payments and the age pension. It's not good enough, and this government must act now.