THE federal government’s decision to relocate the troubled Summer Street Centrelink office to Anson Street has been hailed as a victory for commonsense by the councillors and business owners who fought for the move.
Duty senator for Calare Matt Thistlethwaite made the announcement during his visit to Orange yesterday.
Plans to relocate Medicare to the Centrelink office near the Five Ways were put on hold earlier this year, following an outpouring of community criticism about ongoing traffic concerns and parking shortages at the site.
Face-to-face Centrelink and Medicare business will now be dealt with at the new Anson Street office from the end of January - previously the location of the Department of Education and Workplace Relations.
Both services will also be available at the Orange City Centre office and the Summer Street office will only be used for back-of-office processing and phone services.
Despite the change of heart, Mr Thistlethwaite did not rule out the closure of the City Centre Medicare office in the future in line with the government’s Australia-wide policy of bringing all human services departments under one roof by 2014.
He said the “sensible outcome” came about because the government had listened to the community.
“I made representation to [Human Services] Minister Kim Carr and asked him if he could reverse the decision,” he said.
“In some circumstances once things open issues arise.”
East Orange Newsagency owner Greg Fish and Cr Glenn Taylor both welcomed the move.
“Commonsense in the end did prevail,” Mr Fisher said.
“It will resolve a lot of the parking issues ... just yesterday there was a vehicle parked right at the front door for two-and-a-half hours.”
Mr Fisher said he hoped to see his regular customers return and business pick up after sales figures dropped when Centrelink moved in next door.
Cr Taylor said the senator had worked tirelessly to secure the move to a location that was accessible to the disabled and elderly and was also near a taxi rank and bus stop.
“It’s a tremendous result,” he said.
“It shows you what compromise and negotiation can do ... the public should be listened to.”
Cr Taylor said he hoped the same tactic would put a stop to the state government’s plans to relocate the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) motor registry from Leewood Estate to Lords Place.