If you were watching Q&A last night, there was likely more than one moment where you did big eye rolls. Real big ones.
But there was one moment in particular that probably saw you let out a spontaneous guffaw, and god help you if you’d perchance just taken a large gulp of water, because that would’ve been an actual choking hazard and we hope you are okay.
We are, of course, talking about Attorney-General George Brandis telling the panel and audience that there’s an easy solution if you get one of the incorrect automated Centrelink debt notices – he reckons you simply have to contact Centrelink.
Oh! Just bloody give ’em a call, you guys. So easy. Very simple. Never would’ve thought of that. Yeah cheers George… you absolute fuckin’ dunce.
ICYMI, Centrelink is essentially a flaming pile of garbage right now. They’ve been sending people automated debt notices (many of which are tens of thousands of dollars, and many of which are completely false) and telling people they have to somehow prove that the debt isn’t real. Obviously, the wait times to talk to Centrelink on the phone are now hours and hours long – provided that you can get through at all. Staff in certain areas are reportedly striking.
It’s gotten so bad, that heartbreaking news broke over the weekend that a 28-year-old from Melbourne, Rhys Cauzzo, had died by suicide after being issued an $18,000 debt notice from Centrelink, and then being contacted by debt collectors.
On Q&A, Brandis told the panel that there’s actually a real easy way to fix a debt notice mistake:
“When a notice is issued and it appears to the person to whom the notice is issued a mistake has been made, they can contact Centrelink and sort out the problem.”
The entire audience erupts in laughter, and Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek pounced:
“What’s the average call waiting time now George?”
She asked an audience member – who had previously asked the panel about the discrepancy between politicians enormous salaries/retirement plans/entitlements, and her tiny $22,000/year disability pension – how long her current wait times have been on the phone to Centrelink:
“It took me a few weeks every day for 1.5 hours a day to make that call.”
Watch the entire question below – Brandis‘ mind-numbing answer comes just after the 3:30 mark:
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) February 20, 2017
Honestly, we know the audience laughed, but this is a hugely serious issue which isn’t funny in the slightest – and neither is the fact that our pollies are so far removed from the experiences of a normal Aussie person.
Sometimes you gotta laugh to stop yourself from crying, we suppose.
Source: Q&A / ABC.