Calls to Abandon Cashless Welfare Card Voted Down in Senate
19 June 2017 at 4:49 pm
The government, ALP and crossbench have voted down an Australian Greens senate motion calling for the controversial cashless welfare card expansion to be abandoned.
The motion, put to the Senate on Monday, called on the government to abandon the additional two trial sites and halt further expansion of the current cashless welfare card sites.
It said that evaluations of the NT Intervention, including income management, had showed the scheme met none of its objectives.
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert questioned why the government had proposed extending and expanding the measure before completing the evaluation of the current cashless welfare card trial.
“Why are they expanding a trial that has not been evaluated for its success in full? This shows that the concept of ‘trialing’ the measure was always farcical, the government always planned to extend the rollout,” Siewert said
“There are various new locations being planned and we know that compulsory income management has failed in its objectives in the Northern Territory. This has been demonstrated during the Northern Territory intervention.
“It is disappointing to see the Labor party and crossbench turn their back on people accessing the social safety net who will be dumped onto the card without consultation.
“We need to stop trying to use top-down paternalistic measures on people that are already struggling, it just makes things worse”.
The cashless welfare card scheme was first introduced at three locations in South Australia and Western Australia in February 2016, but the government is now preparing to expand the scheme to two new trial sites from September 2017, ahead of a potentially larger-scale rollout.
The aim is to reduce the effects of “welfare-fuelled alcohol, drug and gambling abuse” and “assist people to break the cycle of welfare dependency by stabilising their lives and helping them into employment”.
However the scheme, which quarantines 80 per cent of welfare payments to a government-issued debit card, has received strong criticism from the social sector.