Consultation needed before card rollout

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DUNKLEY MP Peta Murphy says that there are “serious doubts” about the effectiveness of the cashless welfare card.

The cashless welfare card system sees 80 per cent of money from Centrelink payments received by welfare recipients placed onto a card, where it cannot be withdrawn. The money on the card also cannot be used to buy alcohol or on gambling products. 

The program has been trialled in four regions across Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, and the government moved to expand the trial further last week into Cape York and the Northern Territory.

Ms Murphy said “income management can work in some circumstances, but not broad-based compulsory programs that catch and disempower the wrong people. If a community genuinely wants to use the card, then they should be properly consulted with and provided with the necessary supports. Our Frankston community has not been consulted.”

“Labor opposes any compulsory national rollout or extension of the cashless debit card. There are serious doubts as to whether it works. The evidence showed that it’s stopping people from purchasing basics and essentials at affordable prices and small businesses are concerned about the impact this card will have on their clientele and the cost of non-cash transactions,” she said.

Although no announcement has been made that Frankston would be a target for a future trial of the card, former Dunkley MP Chris Crewther supported the idea before he lost his seat. He said the Frankston area would make a good location for a trial due to it having “one of the highest levels of welfare, much like Blacktown in NSW and other discussed trail locations.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 23 September 2019

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