Say No To Cashless Welfare


– What is it? –

The Cashless Debit Card is a Coalition Government policy that will forcibly restrict 80% of the Newstart entitlement to a VISA-style debit card. Under the pretext of preventing unemployed workers from buying alcohol and drugs, the card can only be used at approved Government locations.

The Cashless Debit Card is a much tougher version of the punitive and completely discredited Basics Card, which restricts 50% of the Newstart entitlement. The Basics Card costs the Government $7,700 per person —  more than half of the yearly income of an unemployed worker!

– Why we are against this card –

So-called “cashless welfare” is an attack on the rights and dignity of all unemployed people. It is a shameless attempt by the Coalition Government to present the money management skills of unemployed workers as underpinning the problem of poverty.

Given that Australia faces an employment crisis, which is systemic in nature, what can this attack on individual workers amount to but a tactic by Government to obscure its own failure to ensure unemployed workers have adequate income support? The proper role of government is to provide a guaranteed, socially inclusive income as either a job for anyone who wants one, or in the form of social security payments for those unable to work.

Currently, the Newstart benefit is $390 per fortnight, below the poverty line.

Therefore, cashless welfare also distracts from the Government’s failure to create enough jobs. According to Government own statistics, in Australia there are 11 job seekers per job vacancy (16 if you include the underemployed). This dire situation sees the average duration of unemployment now at more than 4 years!

The Government has the nerve to blame unemployed workers for the fact that they are living in entrenched poverty and develop substance abuse problems! They have gotten the cause and effect back-to-front, and are contributing to the sufferings of the most disadvantaged in our community by this flawed policy.

Research clearly shows that Income Management does nothing to prevent alcohol and drug addiction. The Government has even admitted that this card can be used to buy alcohol in certain situations.

It is clear then that the Government is using cashless welfare as yet another way to attack and vilify unemployed Australians.

ACOSS’s submission</a > provides a concise indictment of the Cashless Debit Card bill, and proposes less punitive alternatives.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie’s recent comments denouncing the bill:

The Senate must reject mandatory cashless debit cards

– Who has been pushing for cashless welfare? –

The Healthy Welfare Card was proposed by billionaire mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest in his 2014 review into Indigenous Employment. Under his initial proposal, Forrest demanded the card be 100% cashless.

Both the Coalition and the Labor party supported the billionaire’s “Healthy Welfare Card” and it passed the Senate 37 votes to 10 on 14 October 2015.

The fact that this card was proposed by a billionaire is a complete slap in the face of Australian democracy.

– What are the plans for cashless welfare? –

The Cashless Debit Card bill will come before the lower house as early as February 5 2018. This bill removes section 124PF of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, which specifies that the cashless debit card trial will occur in up to three discrete locations, include no more than 10,000 people, and will end on 30 June 2018. Removing this section will allow the extension of arrangements in current sites, and enable the expansion of the cashless debit card to further sites.

– What can we do to fight against the expansion of cashless welfare –

As part of our #OPERATIONFEBRUARYFLOOD campaign, we encourage you to send letters to lower house cross-benchers and relevant minsters (registered “person-to-person” letters if you can afford it).

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