Contributed by Adam Carlton
The Indue card or Cashless Welfare card seems remote to most Australians, who have tended to see this as a problem only affecting remote indigenous communities and having very little to do with themselves.
This is what the broad Australian community has been led to believe. This is not the truth. Those who are currently its victims have been yest cases, with a view towards rolling it out to others in due course.
A new bill before the parliament makes this perfectly clear.
Compulsory income management is what it’s about, mixed with blaming the poor for being poor, by accusing them of being poor, because they do not manage their money properly.
Under the card, a person loses control over most of the Centrelink benefit, which passes onto those who manage the system. they get to decide what it is going to be spent on and where.
Because the right to choose and shop around for the best price is taken away, living the living standard goes down. But this is only one side of the harm caused. The card imposes control over one’s life, stigmatises, and dehumanises.
Cashless Welfare Card
Video from thejuicemedia
Implementation began in 2007, influenced by the Northern Territory Intervention, and rolled out in the East Kimberley, Ceduna, Goldfields and Hinkler electorates. This was supposed to be a 12-month trial. It is continuing more than a decade later, and there is no end in sight.
Contrary to a common misconception, it is not only those on unemployment benefits that have been targeted. Those on other Centrelink benefits have as well.
There is no evidence that those forced into the cards have benefited in any way. There is evidence however, that it has created more poverty, generated social isolation, created anguish, depression, and resulted in a spike of people taking their own lives.
People who feel they are being treated unfairly are denied the right to complain and get redress. The company administering the card has been given total immunity by the government.
Details of the harm caused are shown in successive Senate reports.
Perhaps the most cynical part of this, is that the money of those on the Indue Card is put in the hands of a private company, Indue Ltd, which is an LNP backed financial services corporation.
The existence a company closely tied to the government is benefiting financially from a government program is corrupt.
There is a plan to put this and all other similar cards in the hands of the big four banks. But to make it worthwhile as a business proposition on this scale, the application must be expanded greatly.
Hence the intention to spread it far more widely than the isolated indigenous communities that have been targeted so far.
Single parents, people with disabilities, their carers and others are targets. There are now strong hints that this might be extended to age pensioners. The government has refused to deny that this is the case.
The big target is those who are in insecure, part-time, and short-term contract work, and receiving part payment from Centrelink.
A new Bill in the parliament, if it gets through, will immediately extend the application into the Northern Territory and Cape York. The present cap of 15,000 people who can be forced onto the cards will be removed.
The Bill spells out cultural, civil, criminal, privacy, and legal rights to be taken away, and there is a provision to make the changes permanent.
Through this, the current government will achieve a major step towards its stated goal of extending the punitive nature of the social security system to a new level.
Wage earners should also be concerned. They are the ultimate target.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians, thrown into serious poverty, denied any rights, and made desperate, is the surest way to pull down wages and working conditions.
Is this the Australia we want to live in?
If not, these cards must be buried.