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Labor Promises To Abolish The Mandatory Cashless Welfare Card If Elected

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Labor Promises To Abolish The Mandatory Cashless Welfare Card If Elected

Labor is promising to abolish the mandatory cashless welfare card if it wins the next federal election.

The Coalition introduced the card in 2016 to several select areas in Australia to see whether it could address the issue of people spending their benefits on non-essential services.

The card contains 80 per cent of a welfare recipient's money and you can't use it for gambling or to buy alcohol.

But the Opposition has drawn a line in the sand and will ban it if they rake in the majority of voters.

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese appeared on 2SM Radio over the weekend and host Marcus Paul asked: "So just to be clear, if elected, Labor would scrap the Indue card?" He replied: "Absolutely."

Credit: 7News
Credit: 7News

The card has sparked controversy amongst campaigners who believe it's unfair and won't fix systemic problems with managing cash.

According to the Courier Mail, the card managed to stop $400,000 being spent on alcohol, gambling and other contraband during its first two-year trial in Queensland.

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Mr Albanese isn't totally opposed to the idea of the cashless welfare card, as long as it's voluntary.

"We think there's a role if communities are requesting a government-run system in terms of cashless welfare. So I don't want to say that it never has a role because it did have a role," he said.

"But the idea of a privatised organisation running the welfare system like this and doing it in a way in which they have an interest in its expansion, that's the thing.

"They introduced the profit motive above what is the public interest. It's the public interest that's got to count here. And under Labor, that is precisely what we would do."

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The card is currently operated by company Indue and Labor opposed the government's plan to make the four trial locations permanent.

Anthony Albanese. Credit: Josh Agnew (Creative Commons)
Anthony Albanese. Credit: Josh Agnew (Creative Commons)

It's currently being trialled in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland, as well as Ceduna in South Australia and the East Kimberly and Goldfields in Western Australia.

A report conducted by the University of Adelaide, and commissioned by the Federal Department of Social Services, looked at how the scheme had affected those in the trial communities.

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According to the ABC, while the report found that there was clear evidence that alcohol use had reduced in those communities since the introduction of card, they couldn't confirm that it was wholly attributed to the cashless welfare card.

Shadow social services minister, Linda Burney, said about her party's stance on the topic: "Labor does not support compulsory broad-based income management because there simply isn't evidence that it works. This has been our position for some time."

"If a person or community genuinely wants to volunteer for income management, or if it is a targeted response to child protection or domestic violence, then income management can have a place.

"But this should be decided on a case-by-case basis, not simply imposed on people because of who they are or where they live."

Featured Image Credit: 7News

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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