ACT News


Govt's move on shopfronts sparks brawl

The ACT's federal politicians are brawling over the relocation of two of the city's Commonwealth government shopfront services.

The Department of Human Services will move the busy Medicare office on Petrie Plaza in Civic to nearby Braddon and the Centrelink office at Lanyon will be moved to the Tuggeranong Hyperdome.

The Lanyon Centrelink shopfront will be moved at the end of this month while the Civic Medicare office will be co-located with Centrelink on Lonsdale Street, Braddon in August.

Liberal senator for the ACT Gary Humphries said yesterday the services were being closed, not moved, a claim denied by the minister in charge Kim Carr.

The member for Fraser in the ACT, Andrew Leigh, said Senator Humphries was deliberately trying to mislead the community.

But Senator Humphries said the clients of the two services were victims of cuts by the Gillard government.


''Canberrans have lost out again thanks to the Gillard government,'' Senator Humphries said.

''The Lanyon Centrelink has been servicing customers since 1999 and today we find out that that service will be gone by this time next month.

''The Civic Medicare, servicing roughly 400 customers per day, will be shut in August, severely affecting city workers who might want to lodge a claim with Medicare in their lunchtime.'' Mr Humphries said the decisions were the result of cost-cutting by the Gillard government as it pursued its goal of a budget surplus.

''This is an extraordinary decision, Medicare Civic serves 100,000 customers a year,'' Mr Humphries said.

''It's clear what's happening here - just another desperate dash for cash.

''The government has previously claimed that cuts to departmental budgets and the increased efficiency dividend would not result in any reduction in services.''

But Human Services Minister Kim Carr, backed by the member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, said the change reflected greater demand in the Tuggeranong town centre. ''People living in or near Lanyon have always had to travel to the Tuggeranong Square Centrelink office to access a full range of Centrelink services,'' Senator Carr said.

''I'm sorry to hear that Liberal senator Gary Humphries has attempted to make political capital out of this change.

''No services will be lost, and it is not true that the Medicare office in Civic will close, it will simply relocate to the one-stop-shop in Braddon, together with Centrelink services.'' Ms Brodtmann said the Hyperdome office was being expanded.

Dr Leigh said Medicare's move from Civic to Braddon, both in his electorate, would create a ''one-stop-shop'' for Medicare and Centrelink services with all Department of Human Services staff and facilities in the area together under one roof.

''A one-stop-shop will address the needs of people who live and work in Canberra city by offering a wider range of services in one place to make things easier,'' Dr Leigh said. ''Services currently available at the Medicare Service Centre in Petrie Plaza in Civic will relocate to offer services alongside Centrelink at the new one-stop-shop.

''Senator Humphries has misled the Canberra community about the availability of important services in Canberra city.''

Medicare Civic will be at 13 Lonsdale Street in Braddon from August 20 and Centrelink Lanyon will move to shop 73 on the ground floor of the Tuggeranong Hyperdome from July 2.


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