Contributed from Queensland
The Scott Morrison government may be fast tracking the expansion of the cashless welfare card in Queensland, now that independent Senator Tim Storer has flagged the end of his opposition to the move.
Millions of dollars will be spent, if it goes ahead, on its application in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. All told, the plan is to extend the trial to four sites.
This is despite evidence that trials so far have been destructive for individuals and communities.
Tim Storer has been brought on board with an amendment on how the effect is evaluated.
Labor has not yet committed to oppose it, remains sceptical.
No amount of amending is going to fix something that is fundamentally flawed, in the sense that it may help resolve social issues. Taking control and disempowering people is not the way to help them get on their feet. Besides, it is inherently unfair to profile a community. It creates third class citizens. And it has been shown to create more poverty and inequality.
Increased scrutiny is a good thing. But it won’t change the fact that the cashless welfare card is wrong. If the intention is to overcome real problems within communities, surely the answer is to provide appropriate resources. When the card is being brought in at the same time as funding is being cut, it remains nothing more than a cost cutting exercise.
This is the reason why the early valuation of the trials has been flawed and did not show the true picture. It has cost almost $22 million, which would have been much better spent on something useful.
The trials have so far targeted indigenous communities, making them more dependent and less able to function, and this compromises their efforts to sovereignty over their affairs. It is a means of control.
Cashless welfare card trails are a means to test the waters, with a view to extending it to other communities and is an installment on the growth of big brother government.
Cutting services and corporatisation of resources are two of the pillars of neoliberalism and extending control over people is its political arm. In the end, this is what it is all about.
Rejection of the cashless welfare card is an important aspect of rejecting neoliberalism and the protection of our rights.
The trial was intended to test whether social harm caused by such spending could be reduced by quarantining part of participants’ welfare payments on to a card that could not be used to buy alcohol or gambling products or to withdraw cash, as well as to develop lower cost welfare quarantining measures to replace existing income management arrangements.