Sunday, 26 June 2022

    Cashless welfare trial extended

    Trials of a controversial cashless welfare program will be extended for another two years, after the Federal Government failed to win support to make the scheme permanent in some communities, ABC News reports.

    The Senate agreed to continue trials of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC), which has been labelled “racist” by some critics, after the Coalition put forward last-minute amendments to placate Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff.

    Under the CDC program, 80 per cent of an individual’s welfare payments are quarantined on a card that cannot be used to purchase alcohol or gambling products.

    The Government’s original plan was to make the card permanent in Ceduna in South Australia, the East Kimberley and Goldfields regions of WA, and the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region of Queensland.

    Instead, trials at these four sites will be extended for another two years.

    The Government had also been seeking to transfer about 20,000 people from the Basics Card to the CDC in the Northern Territory. The program will instead be optional for welfare recipients in the NT.

    The bill was opposed by Labor, the Greens and independent senators Jacqui Lambie and Rex Patrick, but passed with the support One Nation, while Senator Griff abstained.

    As the Senate debated the bill, it appeared doomed to fail, prompting Social Services Minister Anne Ruston to circulate the amendments.

    Senator Ruston said the Coalition remained committed to making the program permanent.

    Cheryl Axleby from Indigenous lobby group Change the Record said she was disappointed by the decision to extend the card.


    Controversial cashless welfare program trial extended for two years after Government failed attempt to make it permanent (ABC News)