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‘A disaster’: Hours-long queues at Centrelink after PM announces dole raise

Hours-long queues at Centrelink. Source: ASXLong/Short, Getty
Hours-long queues at Centrelink. Source: ASXLong/Short, Getty

Centrelink offices across Australia have been flooded with queues of small business owners seeking to sign up for their coronavirus supplement payment, just one day after the Prime Minister introduced it.

While Aussies have been urged to ‘socially distance’, they are still required to verify their identity in-person to receive the payment.

This is set to change in April, when Services Australia will allow them to verify their identity over the phone.

Australians called the queues a “disaster waiting to happen”.

“There were over 50 people at the Parra [Parramatta] centre waiting for it to open this morning,” one noted.

And with more Australians working casually or in industries affected by the PM’s latest lockdown restrictions, lines are expected to increase.

The Bondi Junction Centrelink queue Monday March 23. Source: @ASXlongshort
The Bondi Junction Centrelink queue Monday March 23. Source: @ASXlongshort

Others called for the government to introduce phone and online applications sooner.

“This isn’t fast enough,” welfare advocate Jeremy Poxon tweeted. “People are already sick & self-isolating. They need to be assured they can do this over the phone now.”

The Coronavirus supplement

The Coronavirus supplement is set at $550 per fortnight, and will be available to small business owners and casuals who meet the income test as well as those already on the JobSeeker Payment, formerly Newstart.

“This means, anyone eligible for the maximum JobSeeker payment will now receive more than $1,100 a fortnight, effectively doubling the jobseeker allowance,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said yesterday.

The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next six months on top of their payment each fortnight.

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