| 23.03,20. 11:55 AM |
MyGov website crashes, huge queues outside Centrelink offices as coronavirus shutdown deadline passes in some states
PHOTO: Centrelink offices have seen huge queues. (ABC News: Julia Feder)
The MyGov website has crashed as Australians try to access government services like Centrelink online.
Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Government was ordering non-essential business including pubs and gyms to close by midday in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The Government is also doubling dole payments as it seeks to cushion the economy from the devastating impact of the pandemic.
"There is unprecedented demand for the service right now, but Australians need to be patient. Try logging on later today or even tomorrow," Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said.
"MyGov is working, but the best option right now is for people to be patient."
In a statement, Centrelink confirmed it was experiencing "very high demand across all services" and urged people not to come into centres unless there was a "critical need" to be there.
Centrelink said new claims could be started online and if proof of ID was required, it could be provided over the phone if someone was in self-isolation.
However, people are being encouraged to defer their applications until later "if you can."
Gym worker Medhi Bachkat said he was trying to stay positive despite waiting for hours outside Centrelink at Surry Hills in Sydney this morning.
"I've gone from having an income to having no income in the last two weeks," he said.
"We still have to pay for our rent and our lifestyle, so I don't know what's going on"
"I'm not trying to be stressed or anything, but no-one's smiling or happy. Everyone's grumpy."
Cherie Grant, 26, and Rhiannon Stella, 21, both lost their hospitality jobs last night.
They arrived at Centrelink in Victoria Park in Perth an hour and a half before it opened.
"We don't have any second form of income so this is what we have to do," Ms Grant told the ABC.
Opposition frontbencher Bill Shorten said the unprecedented demand was "entirely foreseeable" and said Mr Robert must do better.
"He must ensure Centrelink services — online and in person — are working now when Australians need them most."
The Government's latest $66 billion stimulus package includes help for casual workers, sole traders, and small businesses.
Some asset tests for welfare payments are being waived.
Small businesses can apply for grants of up to $10,000, and the Jobseeker Payment is being doubled.
Taking into account the first round of stimulus measures, and those announced by the Reserve Bank this week, the total economic assistance package is now worth $189 billion, according to the Government.
That is equivalent to 9.7 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product.