Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, has said the major reduction in office hours at both Bairnsdale and Orbost DEECA (formerly DELWP) offices “does not mean there is a reduction in service to our Gippsland community”.
“Orbost has gone from being open 40 hours per week to 15 hours per week and the bigger Bairnsdale office is only open 20 hours per week, half the time it previously was.
“The response came after questions were asked by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who said the response from the Minister as “laughable”.
“It is yet another case of this city-centric government thinking we have come down in the last shower and it is time our councils and chambers of commerce stood up and said enough is enough on some of some of these issues.
Mr Bull said there were other concerning elements of the Minister’s response, including:
• The acknowledgement that what were local front of office services have been transitioned to a “customer contact centre” phone line, and
• The statement that a call service “saves people the inconvenience of needing to make time to travel to an office during working hours.”
“Firstly, what they are doing here is transitioning what have been local face to face services to a call service with a remote non-local response and secondly, they make the point of people being able to call rather than travel during office hours. However, closing these offices on a Friday does not take into consideration tourists coming into our region for a weekend break. If they were going to open limited days each week, Friday should be one of them,” said Mr Bull.
“In addition, when I raised the matter of East Gippsland being one of the three most fire prone areas in the world and the need for the State office that deals with fires open every day the response was “that is why Victorians have access to the VicEmergency app and why we use the broadcasters such as the ABC to ensure critical and time sensitive advice is provided to everyone”.
“There is no understanding not everyone has a smart phone or access to radio with patchy coverage in the area.
“The bottom line is all our residents should have the option of turning up to an office – in office hours – and be able to talk to a local as they have always done.
“In an area of growing population, the answer is not reduced Government office hours,” said Mr Bull.
Wednesday, 29 March 2023