Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (09:39): This morning’s revelations in the Age that the Andrews Labor government has tripled spending on consultancy since coming to government in 2015 should be a surprise to no-one. This is despite Victorian public service numbers having risen around 60 per cent in the same time. What is frustrating about this, though, is the reduction in front-facing service from the Victorian Public Service in recent years. Based on complaints to my office the frontline service of many government agencies has been terrible, some of it the under the cover of COVID, but not getting much better in recent months. Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria has been one of the worst offenders, with constituents struggling to get hold of BDM for birth and death certificate inquiries. It took one Gippsland family in my electorate eight months to register a baby born outside the hospital system.
Right now the BDM customer service centre – it seems like an oxymoron in the circumstances – is still closed. In recent months I have had constituents with similar problems contacting anyone at Aboriginal Housing Victoria and the working with children check hotline, and we have seen reductions in office opening hours at Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action offices, as previously raised by my colleague the member for Gippsland East. I call on the government to urgently put the ‘service’ back into public service.