Government's real plan for Cashless Debit Card revealed

03 December 2019

The Morrison Government yesterday revealed their real plan to quarantine more of peoples social security payments in the Northern Territory.

Earlier this year, the Liberals promised they would not increase how much of a persons payment would be quarantined:

For existing participants on the Income Management and BasicsCard program, there will be no change to the operating principles, including the percentage to be quarantined, which will remain at 50 per cent.

[Paul Fletcher, then Minister for Families and Social Services, 25 March 2019]

But yesterday in the Parliament, the Government moved amendments that will allow the Minister to increase the amount of money restricted on the proposed Cashless Debit Card in the Northern Territory to 80 per cent.

This has been the Liberals plan all along.

Its only a matter of time before the Liberals ramp-up their unfair and discriminatory social security quarantining on Territorians.

Its exactly what they have done in other parts of the country like Ceduna, Bundaberg, the East Kimberley and the Goldfields.

12 years after the Intervention it is absolutely clear that compulsory broad-based income management in the Territory has not worked.

It has not improved the lives and circumstances of First Nations people.

In fact, its marginalised, stigmatised and made everyday life much, much harder for Territorians.

The Governments proposed Cashless Debit Card has been plagued with technical problems that have left people unable to buy the basics, and it is pointlessly easy to circumvent.

The Liberals plan is discriminatory and will hurt First Nations people the most.

Labor opposes the rollout of the Cashless Debit Card across the Territory and we oppose broad-based compulsory income management.

Labor voted against the Bill in the House of Representatives and against the Liberals cynical amendments.

Territorians havent asked for this card. They havent asked for more failed income management. And they havent been consulted.

This is top-down bureaucracy imposed by people who really dont understand what life is like in the Top End or Central Australia.

What the Government should be doing is investing in jobs and economic development, access to clean water and secure food supplies, and better health and education services.