The Government wants to continue the rollout of this program to new sites, they have legislation before the Parliament. But it can be stopped if the legislation isn't supported in Parliament. If you don't support this approach you need to be telling politicians that.
At the moment the Labor party are saying that the card should not be rolled out nationally, but they support the card if a local community supports it. They supported the previous legalisation despite the lack of proper community consultation in Ceduna and the East Kimberley.
The Labor Party’s position will be key in blocking further legislation on the card.
The Greens urge you to phone or write to your local and federal members of Parliament, to tell them to say NO to this legisaltion.
You can find the details of the elected representatives in your area here. We strongly encourage you to get in touch with them.
History of the Cashless Welfare Card
In 2015 the Liberal and Labor parties ganged up (again) to legislate for the “cashless welfare card trials” aka another patronising, paternalistic and ideologically driven attempt to manage the money and hence lives of people living below or near the poverty line on income support.
In the trial sites areas, income support recipients have 80 per cent of their payment quarantined to a “cashless welfare card” — leaving just 20 per cent spare to withdraw as cash. According to the Government, it’s meant to stop people spending money on alcohol, drugs and gambling… There is strong evidence that this approach doesn't work.
This is a form of compulsory income management that takes choice, control and dignity away from people trying to live off very little.
The cashless welfare card trials are were supposed to be time limited. They began in February 2016 and were set to end on 30 June 2017. In April this year the Government announced that they would be extending the trials by six months. The extension came as a shock to many who were told they would only be on the card for a year and who were notified of the trials extension only days before it was set to end.
Now the Government has legislation before the Parliament to extend the trials with no end date and to establish two more trial sites.
The card is currently being trialled in two sites - Ceduna and East Kimberley. The Goldfields was announced as a new site last month, with a fourth site just announced in the Hinkler electorate starting next year.
The Government has consistently insisted that the card won’t get ahead in a region where there is not community support. We have met many, many people in the Hinkler region (and across Australia) that do not want the card. When we visited Hervey Bay in September there was strong opposition to the card. People on the Disability Support Pension, Carers Allowance and Newstart spoke to us about how the cashless welfare card would remove their agency and ability to manage their finances. Many came to a community centre meeting to voice their concerns about how the card will make their lives worse. There is of deep concern in the community.
Many people have tried to voice their concerns with their elected federal member Keith Pitt, but he is apparently ignoring their concerns. He is supposed to represent the views of his community, not just representing those he agrees with.
Those supporting the cashless welfare card should take the blinkers off and read the many analysis reports of the evaluation report of the trial sites. These reports show that the Government's claims of success are flawed.
The so called Evaluation Reports and statistics the Minister is using to justify the extension of the trial sites uses piecemeal and skewed data and relies largely on anecdotal evidence. In areas where funding to alcohol and drug support services has also been increased parallel to the cards introduction, any improvements attributed to the card must be contested. What we do know is when averaged across the two sites, participants of the final evaluation were more likely to say that it had made their lives worse than better. The evaluation methods of the cashless welfare card trials are questionable and the reports fail to include police data in the trial region and surrounds that shows a marked jump in various crimes.
Who can you speak to?
The Labor Party
The Labor Party supported the Government's initial Cashless card trials. At the moment the Labor party are saying that the card should not be rolled out nationally, but they support the card if a local community supports it. They supported the previous legalisation despite the lack of proper community consultation in Ceduna and the East Kimberley. The Labor Party’s position will be key in blocking further legislation on the card.
The cross bench
It is also important to talk to the cross bench as their vote will make up the final numbers in the Senate to ultimately block the Bill. You might consider contacting One Nation Senators, Senator Jacquie Lambie, Senator Derryn Hinch and the individual members of the Nick Xenophon Team.
Local Members and Councils
While state members and councillors will not have a final say on the vote in Federal Parliament their views can play a role in shaping the narrative. Some local councils and state members have been calling for the cashless welfare card in their area because their community “wants it”. Some Federal members are using the support of local members and mayors as “proof” that communities want the card. If you have a local councillor or state member who has been vocal in their support of the card let them and Canberra know that there are members of your community who do not support the card and that theses local leaders do not speak for you.