Without going through the whole saga here, my wife is dealing with Centrelink on behalf of a relative. Six months ago, she was told that there was bit of a wait because there was a backlog and things would be processed in their own good time. A couple of days ago, she received a form asking her to fill out an application for what had been applied for six months ago. She rang them today to ask exactly what was going on.
Sometime after she rang, I went to Bunnings. Now, I had mixed feelings about going to Bunnings given that, at my previous visit there, I was told that they couldn’t find the table I’d bought a couple of days earlier. Neither did they have any others in stock. Nobody seemed that concerned about it, and after waiting half an hour for somebody to do something, the woman I was dealing with eventually suggested that she could ring around and see if another store had one and it could be delivered there for me to pick up. I decided that a refund was quicker and easier. I point this out about Bunnings just to point out that private enterprise is not always without its glitches. Indeed, there have been times that I’ve waited on the phone for private companies for quite a while.
Conservative governments often tell us that private industry is much more efficient and runs things a whole lot better. It’s a strange argument. It’d be like me telling the parents of the kids I’ve taught that they’d be better off pulling them out of my class and getting them a private tutor because he or she would teach much more effectively. The obvious question would be: well, what’s the point of you then? The answer from conservative governmnents is something along the lines of we want to make smaller government. In other words, the only point of a conservative government is to make itself disappear… And, in the case of the Abbott/Turnbull one, I suspect that it is going to suddenly disappear, either at the ballot box or up its own orifice.
Meanwhile, my wife was on the phone to Centrelink. Of course, this is no surprise to anyone who’s had dealings with Centrelink, but I went to Bunnings, looked around, couldn’t find what I was looking for, got back in the car, returned home. By this time, she’d actually spoken to someone. To cut a long story short, she was now waiting to speak to someone about making a complaint because they couldn’t tell her anything about her previous dealings and were insisting that she’d need to fill out more forms in order to be able to act on behalf of the relative. She’d then explained that all that had been done prior to July of last year, forms had been filled out and the previous time she’d spoken to Centrelink that she was told that it was all in the pipeline and that there was a backlog and everything would be processed and that all anyone could do was be patient and sit back and just wait because when people ring up they have to waste time trying to find out why they have no record of any previous dealings.
Ok, so while I’ve been writing this, she has now spoken to someone and in the background I’m hearing her go through all the rigmarole of how to make a complaint. Apparently, there may be no point in making a complaint because by the time it’s been dealt with, either the problem will have been solved, or legislation will have been passed requiring all people putting in complaints to document their intended complaint prior to anything going wrong.
She’s still on the phone. I’ve had time to grow agitated by the Centrelink muzak on speaker phone, go to Bunnings, come home and write this.
Now, I’m not running things, but why doesn’t the government put more people on at Centrelink? Not only could they process more calls, but they could reduce the unemployment rate.
I guess I just don’t understand. I mean, I was confused the other day when I read about how we needed to import pilots to fly our planes; I wondered why we didn’t simply train more a few years ago. But then, I also wonder why we don’t train doctors who enter into a guarantee that they’ll work in country areas until their HECS debt is paid off.
Ah, I’m full of bright ideas. Unfortunately, I suspect the only one that the government will take up will be the idea that we can privatise Centrelink.