Pubs, clubs and a slew non-essential businesses were forced to shut down on Monday, however long queues emerged at Centrelink.
All around the country newly out-of-work Australians huddled at branches around the country to receive the JobSeeker allowance, however the surging demand for support outstripped the processing capacity of Centrelink offices.
There were massive queues.
The online portal for government services crashed. Government Services Minister Stuart Robert initially said that hackers were responsible for the crashing MyGov site but later backtracked on this, stating that the site could only handle 55,000 visitors at one time but had seen 95,000 visitors.
Services Australia, the state body that heads Centrelink, issued a statement urging people to “consider the health and safety” of customers and staff and not use the services unless absolutely necessary.
The group announced that those who receive support and are eligible for additional government support measures, including government payments of $750, will automatically receive it.
The newly-unemployed Australians in the lines, many of which are in need of government support for the first time in their lives, were asked to set up their applications online or over the phone.
“If you don’t currently get an income support payment and you need help because you’ve lost your job or had your income reduced, please start the claim online. If you need to provide proof of identity and you’re in self-isolation or feeling unwell we can do this over the phone – but please defer until later if you can.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the queues in Parliament.
“Across Australia, many thousands of Australians will lose their jobs. They are lining up at Centrelink offices as we speak,” he said.
“We will be doing everything we can to protect those most vulnerable to the impacts of this crisis and to preserve the businesses that employ them. There will be more support to come and it will keep coming for as long as this challenge is before this nation.”
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