Everyone Literally Laughed At George Brandis' Suggestion To Just "Call Centrelink"

    Ohhh just CALL them.

    Attorney-general George Brandis has come up with a solution for people who've been asked to prove they don't owe a welfare debt: Just call Centrelink!

    ABC Q&A

    The first question on Monday's Q&A was asked by Fred Thorpe, a former teacher and mother of three whose disability support pension is up for review.

    Brandis was pushed on what people should do if they'd been sent an incorrect debt notice from Centrelink and now faced being thrown off welfare.

    "When a notice is issued and a mistake has been made and it appears to the person who has been issued that a mistake has been made, they can contact Centrelink and sort out the problem," Brandis said.

    The audience, including Thorpe, burst into laughter.

    ABC Q&A

    Even Labor's Tanya Plibersek couldn't help herself.

    ABC Q&A

    Everyone at home who has had even the slightest bit of contact with Centrelink was screaming at their TV.

    OMG! George Brandis is so out of touch with reality!! Has he ever rung Centrelink? #qanda

    Everyone should ring Brandis office and tell him each time how long it took to get through to Centrelink, reality check. #qanda

    "Just contact Centrelink and sort it out" - Centrelink's Brandis new Tagline. #qanda

    Brandis does realise if a client goes into a Centrelink office they tell you to go home and use the web or call, ri… https://t.co/1isoykmFI0

    Centrelink's long call wait times have been in the spotlight in the wake of the automated debt recovery controversy.

    Hard to believe how out of touch with reality George Brandis is on contacting Centrelink on #QandA #clueless

    Government ministers say the average call wait time is around 12 minutes – but that doesn't square with the experience of many, who say they often wait on hold for hours.

    George Brandis says “just call centrelink”. Not everyone has 4+ hours each day to wait on hold to fix your mistakes #outoftouch #QandA

    Even ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales couldn't get through.

    @centrelink Does centrelink ever answer its phone? 2 hours on hold last week fruitlessly, heading in the same direction today.

    Thorpe eventually told Brandis that she HAD been calling Centrelink every day, for 90 minutes a day, waiting to speak to someone. So, of course, Brandis had another classic piece of advice.

    ABC Q&A

    Let that sink in.

    Brandis to woman with a disability: why don't you just walk into a Centrelink office? #qanda

    At that point Tony Jones butted in to end the embarrassment: "George, I think you’re hearing from someone who has experienced the frustrations of trying to use that system, it might be good to leave it there."

    ABC Q&A

    Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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