Contributed from Victoria
The National Party has called for every Australian under 35 on a parenting payment or Newstart should receive a cashless welfare card.
It came up at the party Federal National Council on Saturday. Those proposing the extended application of the card, suggested that people receiving these payments were spending too much money on drugs and alcohol.
Besides this being a blatant act of profiling, which suggests that that anyone on these payments is an undeserving malingerer.
The rational used to trial the Cashless Welfare Card is being used as an argument to extent it across Australia, and has immediately been championed by News Corp.
Just because it came up at the National’s Federal Council, does not mean that it is automatically government policy. This is another item to the wish list, deliberately setting out to test the waters. If there is not a strong enough counter reaction, it is just a matter of time before it does become official policy.
Suggestions are being made that the trials in Kalgoorlie, East Kimberley and Ceduna have been successful. They have been. in terms of creating greater inequality and making the provision of necessities more expensive, because the cards can only be used in designated shops and this prevents holders from shopping around for better prices.They have been successful, if the goal is to ensure those in the trials wear the stigma. They have not been successful in lifting standards of living and creating a path to self-respect and creating work for those who need it.
The essence of what is being put by the supporters of the Cashless Welfare Card is that people do not have the right to an acceptable standard of living, if they do not have a job. Government payments are a form of charity paid by those who are better off, who should not be expected to foot the bill. This is the ugly and selfish side of our society. Few of those who take it up sing the same tune when it happens to them.
When they push this line of reasoning, the supporters of the card show that this is not about overcoming bad behaviour, but about cutting social security payments. Nor do they have anything to say about the generous tax loopholes for the wealthy and the corporate tax evasion industry. This is a case of double standards, if there ever was one.
Ours should be a caring society, where we look out for one another and give a helping hand to those less fortunate for ourselves.
Past generations fought hard to put into place the right of each one of us to have a decent life without having to face discrimination. We should not permit those who wish to take this away and create a class of third rate Australians, denied the rights that other people enjoy, to make it happen.
As for the charge that those on a parenting allowance or Newstart are malingerers. Those making it have not experienced this themselves. It is a far cry from a paid holiday. Being a single parent is hard work. Trying to make end meet with an inadequate income is not easy either. No matter which way you cut it, there are not enough jobs to go around. Some people are going to slip through the cracks. More when the economy is not doing well.
If this is a just society, it will do all it can to mitigate the harm.
Oh yes, and if some should opt for the occasional drink or smoke? It is no less than the rest of us would accept as our right.
There may be a few wrongdoers. They exist everywhere. But this does not justify tarring a section of Australia with the same brush.