8 things we don’t know about the cashless welfare card trials

This week the Liberal Party and Labor Party ganged up (again) to legislate for “cashless welfare card trials” aka another patronising, paternalistic and ideologically driven attempt to manage the lives – and money – of people living under the poverty line.

Basically the Government will put 80 per cent of a person’s income support on a “cashless card” — leaving just 20 per cent spare to withdraw as cash. According to the Government, it’s meant to stop people spending money on alcohol and gambling. It won’t. This is a form of income management and evidence shows that doesn’t work. What it will do is take choice, control and dignity away from people trying to live off very little.It should have been rejected by the Labor Party. Not just because it robs people of choice and dignity and doesn’t work, but because there are so many unanswered questions about how the scheme is meant to work.

Here are just 8 of them:

1. What happens if you lose your card?

The Government claims that it will be possible to print cards at the trial site. However, they failed to identify any details about how this would happen, and how people could manage on weekends if they left the area they usually lived in.

2. What about if shops charge you a surcharge for using your card?

This scheme targets people on income support who are living below or near the poverty line — that means every dollar counts. The Government acknowledges that while they will pay any bank fees they won’t pay merchant fees (ie surchages).They say they are working with merchants to try and reduce fees on the trial site, but not outside the trial site. So even if they reduce fees in the trial site when people travel they will have to pay standard fees.

3. What if a shop has an EFTPOS minimum?

The Government was unclear; it said it would *try* to remove minimum EFTPOS limits in Ceduna. Try.

4. And what about if the satellite signal stops working in remote regions and the EFTPOS machines stop working?

It happens! And the Government doesn’t know.

5. What happens to those people who don’t want to be part of a trial where the government tries to manage their money? What happens if they leave the trial site?

If you are forced to be a part of the trial, even if you leave, you will still remain on the trial until you no longer meet the ‘trial eligibility requirements’, or until the trial is over.

6. So, a community panel gets to decide how much money you can get in cash if you want if you want to decrease the per cent quarantined. In small towns, these people could be your neighbours! What happens if they reject your request for more money?

Not much. The Government clearly hadn’t thought about this and finally said there’d be an appeals process, but they can’t tell us how it’ll work or what the rules will be.

7. How about evaluating the trial? Keen on finding out if it really works?

The Government couldn’t answer this one properly either. The Government couldn’t tell us if they would provide funding for services to another community without the debit card trial to provide a meaningful comparison.

8. Which bank/financial institution will be providing the cashless card?

Nobody knows; Government is supposedly still negotiating it.

Source: 8 things we don’t know about the cashless welfare card trials | Australian Greens

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