Human Services Minister Keenan must have a lot of spare time on his hands - or he’s a time management guru.
Today in Question Time, he was asked why more and more older Australians were finding it hard to get their applications for the aged pension approved.
Mr Keenan responded by inviting MPs who have had individual constituents experience these delays to come see him.
The sad reality is the average time for processing such claims continues to climb.
Taking into account the figures (see below) - and the fact that there will be people across many of the 150 federal electorates in this nation that have experienced these delays - one suspects the Minister doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.
AGE PENSION MEDIAN PROCESSING TIMES
2016-17 (full FY) 36 days
2017-18 as at 31 March 49 days (p.171)
(Source: Senate Estimates 31.05.18)
Also caught in these delays are older Australians currently on Newstart, who are being tripped up by Coalition red-tape that forces them to fill out application paperwork instead of being smoothly transitioned to the aged pension that they’re eligible to claim.
Minister Keenan should be upfront, acknowledge the delays, spell out what will be done to sort this out and ensure vulnerable older Australians get the support they need.
And instead of slashing jobs and outsourcing work, he should focus on building a stronger Centrelink to help better meet the needs of struggling Australians.