Greens to Disallow Cashless Welfare Card
28 January 2016 at 2:36 pm
The Australian Greens will move to stop the introduction of the cashless welfare card trial set for Ceduna in South Australia, when Parliament returns next week.
Greens spokesperson Senator Senator Rachel Siewert said that with the Government’s “clear ideological intention” to expand the cashless welfare card trials throughout regional Australia, the Greens planned to move to disallow the Ceduna trial.
“There were many concerned that the three trial sites supported by both the Government and Labor would see the rollout of this so called trial across Australia. Unfortunately it looks like those concerns were well founded,” Senator Siewert said.
The legislation to carry out the trials was passed with the support of the Australian Labor Party in October 2015.
“A cashless welfare card is not the way to tackle gambling and drug and alcohol abuse. The proposal to expand the use of the card further emphasises the need to disallow the regulation that allows the trial to take place in Ceduna when Parliament resumes,” Siewert said.
“The Government could not even conceal its intent to rollout this measure throughout Australia until after the trials were completed. Just a few months after the trials were passed into legislation, an extended rollout is being spruiked.
“Let me be clear here, when the trials were passed into legislation with the help of Labor, the measure had gaping holes and unanswered questions – particularly around logistics and the card’s capacity to entrench poverty. These gaps still remain.”
Siewert said the Australian Greens would remain the lone party in parliament to oppose the card, with Labor siding with the government.
“Not only is this card overbearing and controlling, it suggests that anyone accessing income support in rural Australia is abusing drugs, alcohol, or has a gambling problem,” she said.
In December 2015 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said a cashless welfare card that would restrict people’s access to cash in a bid to prevent income support recipients buying alcohol, gambling and spending money on drugs, could unfairly target Indigenous Australians.
Gooda said the Healthy Welfare Card represented a “worrying” trend towards income management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“Our communities have seen this kind of reform before. The Healthy Welfare Card resembles the BasicsCard, one of the most controversial elements of the NT Intervention,” Gooda said.
“While there’s no doubt that many disadvantaged people would like support, the evidence whether income management provides this support is mixed to say the least.”