Contributed by Adam Carlton
The Social Services Minister has declared she wants to return to “business as usual” after ending a temporary pause on new participants for the federal government’s controversial cashless welfare card trial.
The temporary hold on the Cashless Debit Card has come to an end. The Morrison government will now extend this to another 4,000 people across Australia. Social Services Minister Anne Ruston conformed this yesterday (24 March 2021).
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston
The biggest trial site is Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland, with 5,472 people currently on the card. The transition will be forced onto those targeted over the next few weeks.
The hold had been placed in March last year, with the rise of Covid-19.
The card takes control over 80 percent of the payment from Centrelink. It is said that this is to prevent spending on alcohol and gambling. This is not the way it really works. Control is taken over where the money is used, giving no scope for cardholders to shop around for a better price.
Evidence shows that it has led to lower living standards and more harm to vulnerable people.
A University of Adelaide report released only weeks ago found the card contributes to feelings of stigma, shame and embarrassment.
So far vulnerable indigenous people and those living in isolated communities have been the soft targets, serving as a testing ground to extend the scheme much more widely. The potential targets are all those on Centrelink benefits, especially the unemployed, single parents, and those with disabilities.
For the government, the payoff is lowering the statistics and cutting welfare spending. This should not be confused with solving the problems of no work and poverty.
Expanding the Cashless Debit card comes together with JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments.
The trial is set to continue till 2022. After this is will no longer be a trial and set to be applied much more widely. At least that is what they will do if they can get away with it.