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Centrelink call centre shake-up to cost taxpayers $50m 12/10/2017

The government is spending $50 million on a program they claim will slash Centrelink call waiting times, but critics say it's ineffective, "cut-price privatisation".

Private company Serco, which runs Australia's detention centres, will take on outsourced call centre duties from Centrelink, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has announced.

"This will cost $50 million over two years," he said.

"We are piloting a new program...using a private provider to answer some of these calls."

Serco already undertakes similar work for the tax office.

In 2014, 22 million calls to Centrelink were met with engaged signals.

This increased to 29 million in 2015, and a whopping 42 million in 2016.

Nadine Flood from the Public Sector Union said the union had been calling for more staff in Centrelink to help families, pensioners and other vulnerable Australians.

"Services are complex and it requires properly trained staff," she said.

"This is a cut-price privatisation and it's not going to fix people's problems with Centrelink."

She said the government was putting peoples' personal details at risk.

"We have had a huge reaction from Centrelink staff over the last 24 hours," she said.

"These are mostly working mums worried about jobs and wages, they are worried about more of Centrelink being sold off and they are worried about clients."

Mr Tudge said the new operators would be "up and running" by early next year.

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