National cashless welfare card plan by Turnbull government

The Australian

Sarah Martin, 20 January 2016tudge
Assistant Minister for Social Services Alan Tudge is overseeing the rollout of the cashless welfare card. Picture: Stuart McEvoy


A cashless welfare card aimed at stemming alcohol abuse would be rolled out across the country under a welfare reform the Turnbull government is considering taking to the election.

As regional trouble spots line up to be chosen for trials of the government’s new Healthy Welfare Card to begin next month, The Australian understands the Coalition may seek an election mandate to extend the card to welfare recipients across regional Australia if they achieve positive results.

Under the new system — proposed by mining magnate ­Andrew Forrest in his review of the welfare system in 2014 — 80 per cent of a person’s government payment would be ­quarantined to a bank card that could not be used to buy alcohol and gambling products, nor ­converted to cash.

The remaining 20 per cent could be accessible as cash.

Last year, the government successfully passed legislation to allow the card to be trialled in three test sites, affecting up to 10,000 welfare recipients, beginning in the far-west South Australian town of Ceduna next month, and the East Kimberley in northern Western Australia in March.

The Australian can reveal that since the East Kimberley trial site was announced in November, up to seven West Australian shires have contacted Liberal MPs seeking to take part in the trial of the card, predominantly from the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions.

Melissa Price, MP for the vast regional seat of Durack, said the councils had contacted her because they were struggling with social dysfunction arising from alcohol abuse that was not being curbed by existing programs.

“There is a sense of urgency, certainly in my patch of regional Western Australia, where in some cases we have got alcohol management plans that have worked to a certain extent, but people want to see the Healthy Welfare Card implemented alongside the alcohol management plans,” Ms Price said.

“Without a doubt, if you don’t have a community that is abusing alcohol, it is better not just for the individual but for the community itself.”

Ms Price is pushing for the regional centre of Geraldton to become the third trial site.

This would allow the government to test the card in a city where the majority of welfare recipients are non-indigenous and provide a blueprint for how the card could work in metropolitan areas.

“Obviously it is subject to the results of the trial, but it is very interesting to see how this could get rolled out in a major city as this is not just a problem in the bush,” she said.

If the card were rolled out across all regional communities in Australia, up to 100,000 people on government income support could be captured.

It could include more people if the Basics Card in the Northern Territory were replaced, or if metropolitan trouble-spots currently subject to income quarantining were also included.

Assistant Minister for Social Services Alan Tudge, who is overseeing the rollout of the card, is hopeful trials will prove the measure can be the “solution” to alcohol-induced social harm.

He says that if the trials are successful, the government will want the card to have a broader application.

“Offering the card to other regions would a logical next step, beginning with those Western Australian locations that have already shown initial support,” Mr Tudge writes in The Australian today.

“Others have suggested that the card could have wider application.

“It is early days, but one thing is clear: collectively we have to get control of the alcohol abuse that destroys communities and now threatens the next generation.

“The cashless welfare debit card may be the solution.”

9 comments

  1. I don’t think that this is either fair or just , this is just another way of holding the Australian people down and taking away more and more of our FREEDOMS and it go’s against the Australian Constitution and the government is playing on the fact that they know the majority of these people would not have access to the constitution or would of ever read it, and a lot more would not even be aware that we have an Australian Constitution that is for the protection of the citizens of Australia and NOT to be ridden over rough shod by corrupt politicians and their personal agenda’s ,and we should be having a referendum on the matter, NOT enforced by a tyrannical fascist uncaring government that is ultimately out to destroy Australia for their own damn GREED .

    1. Wow how messed up. Taking money from the tax payer and spending it on luxury items such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling is not a freedom. It’s theft. What part of the constatution does this violate. This country was made great not through giving people things for free but from people building a better society off their own hard work

      1. Stuart, you are part of the problem. You don’t even realise that all taxes are raised to pay the interest on the loans the government takes each year for its budget from private banking corporations. Perhaps too you don’t realise just how much of the money you accuse people of stealing is returning straight back to the real thieves in the form of taxes? Increasing the welfare of the poorest of people, regardless of how they spend it, they will still spend it, so it’s good for the community, good for local business, and it all flows back to the strength of the economy. Keeping people in poverty when there is an abundance of wealth to be shared, only increases human misery, increases crime which interrupts the honest people’s business of just getting on with their lives in peace and the pursuit of happiness. All of which makes everyone want to drink more. I say just GIVE everyone all the booze they can take, and let evolution take care of the idiots. This method of restriction is only going to increase crime and black-market activity even further. Entrepreneurs will simply start up back-yard distilleries and swap legitimate goods for questionable alcohol. You’ve seen how well prohibition has worked with cannabis… no-one uses that anymore right? Yeah right. Get back to reality and let people do as they will without government interference and we’d all be better off. And share the wealth in this commonwealth nation… everyone benefits when there’s plenty of cash-flow.

      2. WHAT DO YOU KNOW GIMP,MORE LIKE TAXPAYERS 50 BILLION FOR SHT SUBMARINES,PEOPLE LIKE YOU NEED TO WAKE THE UP,AND STOP ACTING LIKE A MORONIC BRAINWASHED PUNY LIBERAL CRONIE,AS IF THE FOLKS DIDN’T DO MORE FOR THIS LAND THAN THE LIKES OF YOU,pff!

  2. FWIW I think you’re both right.

    I will reserve judgment until I know EXACTLY how this card works, eg. is is a debit or prepaid credit card that can be used anywhere a normal credit card can but just not on some types of product? Or is it bound to the Woolies/Coles cartel and/or other large companies that elect to support the card?

  3. What about places that dont accept cards? Or saving up? Im saving up for a car with my welfare, how are we meant to buy things online or add to savings or buy food sometimes if we can only use it at card accessable places and only have 20 percent to do this with?
    Its not fair that people who dont drink or smoke or drug get oppressed and punished also

  4. WELL 20% IS KINDA SCABBY,BUT I GUESS NOW FRANCE RUNS AUSTRALIA AS WE ALL KNOW THEIR SHT IS KINDA COSTLY,MAYBE IF THEY COMPROMISED 50-60% IT WILL NOT BE AS FACISTIC SPASTIC OF THEM TO DEFRAUD AUSTRLIANS OF CONSTITUTIONS,
    PRESENTLY WORKING OR NOT!!

  5. Excellent post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks!

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