Australia’s Government Services Website Crashes Amid Virus Pandemic

March 23, 2020 Updated: March 23, 2020

Thousands of Australians have queued outside Centrelink offices and the online portal for government services has crashed as people scramble to apply for benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert confirmed Monday afternoon that a sudden flood of requests was responsible for crashing the MyGov website.

Robert said the site could only handle 55,000 users at one time, insisting it was fine despite people being unable to access it.

Earlier in the day, he claimed that hackers were responsible the crash.

“MyGov has not been offline, it’s simply suffered from a distributed denial of service attack this morning,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“At present there are delays, we don’t give a running commentary on delays.”

Robert has urged people to go online to start their claims.

Centrelink will boost its workforce by 5,000 people to deal with the influx of applicants and extend call centre hours.

But there will be fewer staff in offices due to social distancing requirements and no pop-up shopfronts are planned.

Many families, workers, and business owners have been forced to seek social security payments as the pandemic throws the national economy into chaos.

Right across the country, long queues of people snaked around blocks outside Centrelink offices.

First-time welfare recipients have been told they can only get a customer reference number by applying in person.

By Daniel McCulloch and Rebecca Gredley