The Department of Human Services (DHS), which runs Centrelink, has confirmed there was an outage on Monday that affected Centrelink and Child Support online services.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, there were also long queues at Centrelink offices and longer than usual call wait times.
The DHS posted a message on Facebook yesterday, saying it was experiencing “intermittent issues” with access to Centrelink and Child Support online services.
A DHS spokesperson told CIO Australia that it experienced some “minor disruptions” to Centrelink services which were resolved on Monday afternoon.
"During the minor disruption people needing to report their earnings were still able use online services, our mobile phone apps or they could call the phone self-service number on 133 276,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The outage follows comments by Treasurer Joe Hockey during a interview with Neil Mitchell of 3AW that the Centrelink mainframe, which dates back to 1983, needs replacing.
Hockey was asked by Mitchell if the federal government can afford to fix the Centrelink mainframe.
“We have to, we have got no choice. The question is how we do it and how we ensure that we have better service delivery into the future,” he said.
Hockey admitted the cost of replacing the Centrelink mainframe would run into the “billions” and the money will come from tax payers.
“The mainframe for Centrelink, which provides services to millions of Australians is aging and in bad shape. Centrelink and the Pentagon in the United States are the only two customers in the world of this one company that maintains the Centrelink mainframe, which is extraordinary,” he said.
According to Hockey, the average wait time for a Centrelink phone call is 17.5 minutes.
“Any business that keeps people waiting that long would fail. From my perspective, that is not good enough.”
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick