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Govt's move on shopfronts sparks brawl

Date

Noel Towell

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.

11 comments

  • I guess it was inevitable that the Australian Government would discover that they had Medicare services in Civic, very a convienent location...and move them to an extremely less convienent location like Braddon.

    The rent for Civic would had been dirt cheap so I don't think they are saving money by opening up a brand new building space...the old spot will be vacant for a long time.

    Commenter
    SB
    Location
    Canberra Civic
    Date and time
    June 22, 2012, 8:54AM
    • Firstly it would be easier if doctors and dentists did the medicare processing at POS, 2ndly it is healthy for the people to walk a few hundred metres and finally if the feds can merge a few federal shopfronts why can't they merge state/federal thingies like health, education housing, indigenous affairs, aging etc to get some really BIG savings.

      Commenter
      stoney
      Date and time
      June 22, 2012, 10:19AM
    • I reckon they are thinking if they move the medicare office from civic, less people will go there and so that will lower the waiting times.

      Commenter
      westy
      Location
      canberra
      Date and time
      June 22, 2012, 4:29PM
  • Given there is already a Centrelink shopfront in Tuggeranong Square and a FAO/Medicare shopfront in the Hyperdome, how exactly are they 'moving' the Lanyon shopfront to Tuggeranong?

    Commenter
    Markus
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    June 22, 2012, 9:19AM
    • Markus, its just another Labor thought bubble,dont worry it will be over soon,and it will just seem like a bad dream....Untill we have to pay the debt

      Commenter
      Martin from Canberra
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 22, 2012, 11:09AM
    • agree with you Markus - where is the logic in moving the one from Lanyon - some beauracrat trying to make a name for him/herself.

      Commenter
      westy
      Location
      canberra
      Date and time
      June 22, 2012, 4:27PM
  • The Federal Government are clearly reducing services in the Tuggeranong area. If there is already a Customer Service Centre in Tuggeranong Square, and a Medicare office at the Hyperdome, closing the Customer Service Centre in Lanyon is clearly a reduction in services for customers in the Tuggeranong Valley.

    As for moving the Medicare office from Petrie Plaza to the Centrelink office Braddon, Civic customers won't have time to walk to Braddon to access the Customer Service Centre, unless the centre in Braddon will extend it's office hours so customers can go there before or after work.

    And the article does not mention the fact that you will no longer able to receive cash refunds over the counter at the Co-located Service Centres. You will need to have a bank account to receive your Medicare refund by direct deposit.

    Commenter
    Hank
    Location
    Ainslie
    Date and time
    June 22, 2012, 11:25AM
    • Awesome, even less parking options nearby. But walking half a kilometer from the Canberra Centre car park is fine... unless it's raining, cold, you have kids with you, and so on.

      Commenter
      Cool
      Date and time
      June 22, 2012, 11:37AM
      • This maybe ok for people who can still walk,
        but what about of the older generation who have to get around in wheelchairs,or walkers ?

        Commenter
        margo,
        Date and time
        June 22, 2012, 1:07PM
        • That would be right. If something is easy and convenient for people then it must be moved to a less convenient location.

          Commenter
          Disgruntled Civic worker
          Date and time
          June 22, 2012, 5:32PM

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