A woman living near a Centrelink office has claimed parking inspectors are booking the newly unemployed as they queue for hours to sign up for welfare payments.
Michelle Jaynes said she watched parking inspectors patrol near the Maroochydore Centrelink office on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on Monday morning.
She said inspectors were issuing tickets to cars belonging to people waiting in the queue. However, the local council claims they were only giving out warnings.
Ms Jaynes said the council should not have been chalking cars.
‘It just wasn’t the right time to do it… I just don’t know what’s wrong with them.’ Ms Jaynes told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
A Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman said no actual parking tickets were issued near the Centrelink this week and only two notices had been issued since Monday in the council’s region.
Instead, parking officers were issuing warnings instead of infringements, the spokeswoman said.
Tickets would still be issued for unauthorised cars parking in disabled spaces or for anyone affecting public health and safety.
In Bondi Junction, Sydney on Tuesday, parking police were observed outside the Officeworks carpark on Ebley St, two blocks down from the Centrelink queue.
One man in the queue on Tuesday said he waited all day on Monday only to see the centre close when he was four people from the door.
‘The police came to close it,’ he said.
He brought a camp chair to sit in the line, which stretched for a block and a half down Ebley St on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Waverley Council said it was not preying on people stuck in the Centrelink queues.
‘In response to COVID-19 pandemic, Waverley Council has instructed its Officers to use their discretion and compassion when enforcing parking measures,’ a council spokeswoman said.
‘However, we ask that motorists continue to adhere to our existing parking restrictions for the safety of all motorists and pedestrians and to ensure fair access to availability of parking.
‘There will be no tolerance for the blocking of private driveways or parking that endangers safety.’
It was just hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Sunday night address to the nation shut down entertainment and dining venues, shedding hundreds of jobs in an effort to curb the deadly coronavirus pandemic.