Estimates has revealed the cashless welfare card trial set for South Australia and the East Kimberley still has logistical issues and loopholes that need to be addressed, Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“This card is going to make life even more difficult for those on income support and is likely to entrench poverty.
“The trials were set up to test whether the cashless card will reduce gambling and drug and alcohol abuse. As part of the trial process $1 million is also being injected into the community for wrap around support services.
“When assessing the trial, it is likely that they will have no idea whether it is the wrap around services, or the card itself that has reduced disadvantage.
“Tonight I asked the Government whether they were going to provide another community with the $1m in wrap around service without the cashless welfare card so that a comparison can take place. This is not going to occur.
“We have also learned that none of the merchants in the Ceduna trial site who charge merchant surcharges for using EFTPOS have agreed to remove their the surcharge, so this will cost anyone forced onto the trial who is struggling to get by.
“In answer to a question about accessing money if a card is lost while out of town we learned the Government has now allowed the option to transfer up to $1240 a month to a friend.
“The card is a shambles and it is worrying that the Government is obviously still considering rolling it out to broader Australia.
“This card needs to be abandoned. The money spent on rolling out this trial should be spent on much needed wrap around services that genuinely help communities battling drug and alcohol problems”.