Centrelink to outsource call centre staff
HUNDREDS of new Centrelink call centre jobs will be privatised with a secret report revealing contractors are faster, more efficient and take fewer sickies than union-protected public servants.
The Morrison Government will today reveal it will outsource 800 call centre workers in Brisbane to plough through the tens of millions of calls made to Centrelink each year.
Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said while Centrelink staff answered most of the one million calls it received a week within the target of less than 16 minutes, he wanted it to be quicker for Australians to have their inquiries answered.
Senior Australians are complaining about waiting too long to have their calls answered about their pension applications, with some stuck on hold for more than an hour.
Mr Keenan, who wants to supercharge customer service, said 800 contracted staff employed by Australian-based call centre operators, were among an extra 2500 to be hired.
"The reality is that customers don't really care who is answering their call, as long as it is answered quickly by someone who is capable of resolving their issue,'' Mr Keenan said.
He said Labor introduced a call centre outsourcing model for the Australian Taxation Office in 2008.
The Coalition Government has trialled using 250 staff, who have been trained to take Centrelink calls, through private firm Serco.
The confidential review by KPMG is believed to have found that contractors took 44 per cent more calls than Centrelink staff; had 28 per cent less downtime after taking a call; took 3.5 per cent less unscheduled leave; and were 13.5 per cent more efficient.
Mr Keenan said the 250 Serco staff had answered more than 3.2 million calls in the past year and busy signals had been cut by 40 per cent.
"This dispels many of the myths perpetuated by Labor that outsourcing leads to higher costs and reduced standards of service,'' he said.
"Labor has vowed to scrap the use of contract staff if it wins Government and will instead hire 1200 public servants to replace them."