What 'the'? Couple caught up in street name glitch

TO THE OR NOT TO THE: Pensioners Kathy and Noel Langthorne have been unable to get their council rates discount because of a Centrelink technicality.
TO THE OR NOT TO THE: Pensioners Kathy and Noel Langthorne have been unable to get their council rates discount because of a Centrelink technicality. Eliza Goetze

ELLIOTT Heads' Esplanade is idyllic on a sunny winter's day. On one side, a calm ocean shimmers; on the other, people potter in their gardens outside homes with names like Beach Paradise.

But for Kathy and Noel Langthorne it's been a bureaucratic Bermuda Triangle.

The Sydney couple moved into their newly built home five weeks ago to enjoy paradise in their retirement.

They set about securing their rates discount for their part age pension. The State Government offers a 20% rebate of up to $200 a year, and Bundaberg Regional Council offers a fixed reduction of $140 a year.

What should have been a simple transaction unearthed a glitch putting the street in no-man's land, causing them amusement and frustration.

"You can't get cheaper rates until you present your Centrelink card with your address to show you reside here," Kathy said.

"We didn't think it would be a problem. But we took it to council and they said 'We can't accept this' because it didn't match up."

The difference? The Centrelink card refers to "The Esplanade" while the council's system recorded the street as "Esplanade".

So began a back-and-forth.


"THANKS A MILLION”: The couple had their rates discount applied after questions to Centrelink from the NewsMail. Eliza Goetze

"The Centrelink girl tried everything," Noel said. "She even wrote up one manually and stamped it.

"But when the new card arrived in the post it, again it had 'The Esplanade' on it."

The couple returned to Centrelink once more and were told they would not know the outcome until their rates notice arrived.

"It's all up in the air over just one word," Noel said.

"We might possibly have got away with it if we had put 'Esplanade Esplanade'.

"What is the correct name and why can't government agencies get their act together?"

The Langthornes' next door neighbour had faced the same issue, they said.

Questions from the NewsMail saw a turnaround in a matter of hours. By the end of yesterday the couple's discount had been applied.

"Centrelink rang to say the change had been made and they're going to issue us with new cards that say 'Esplanade'," Kathy said.

"It's amazing that it takes the press to make it happen.

"Thanks a million - you've fixed something nobody else has managed to fix."


A BUNDABERG Regional Council spokesman extended an apology to the Langthornes yesterday, saying the council drew its information on street addresses from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines while Centrelink used Australia Post data.

"Google Maps and even the original survey plan registered on May 4, 1972, show the address as Esplanade," he said.

The delivery of council rates services was "required to be scrupulously accurate".

"It is understandable (the Langthornes) felt some frustration with the response from Centrelink.

"Council will seek discussions with all stakeholders to ensure consistency in the future."

Topics:  bundaberg regional council centrelink elliott heads esplanade rates street names

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