Pressure builds on Centrelink
By Bill Mason
Computer problems with the Newstart Common Platform dealing with processing unemployment and related benefits, and the introduction of the federal government's disastrous new Youth Allowance, have increased pressure on Centrelink, the federal agency responsible for social security payments.
Since July 1, Community and Public Sector Union members have been taking selective industrial and protest action in workplaces around the country. They are preparing for further action if the problems continue.
Already, client and staff anger and frustration have escalated as incorrect and delayed payments have mounted over several weeks.
Thousands of unemployed people in the 18-20 age bracket have had their benefits cancelled or drastically reduced as a result of the government's policy of imposing harsh parental income and assets tests on the new Youth Allowance.
"This cruel new allowance will condemn many young people to dire poverty. Their families will face desperation as they are forced to support their children, even though they may have lived away from home for several years", Ruth Ratcliffe, Brisbane organiser of Resistance, said on July 2. "This is a recipe for increased domestic violence and an attack on the basic economic and democratic rights of young people. So much for Howard's so-called family values."