The ALP was tonight complicit in extending a social experiment on the people of Ceduna, the East Kimberley and the Goldfields by rubber stamping the Government’s extension to the Cashless Debit Card for another year.
“This is a sad day for people in our community who are suffering on a coercive, controlling card that flies in the face of self-determination, Senator Rachel Siewert, Spokesperson on First Nations issues said today.
“How can the ALP stomach let alone support this type of policy approach?
“Income management is a failed measure – it failed to address disadvantage in NT and it’s failing now.
“If the ALP is so committed to consulting people, as they have said in the House– you know that there is actually one way of finding out if people want something – by making it voluntary!
“If people want it they will opt in.
“Any suggestion that the ALP were put in a tough spot is preposterous. They are pretending they are being held hostage because the trials expire soon and people need certainty.
“The trials have a definitive end date – are we really supposed to believe that the Government had no plans for people after the trial ended – that they were just going to say sorry your payment is cancelled? If so, that is appalling governance.
“There is plenty of time for people to transition off the card between now and June 30.
“Labor knows what they did is bad policy which is why they ganged up with the Government to gag debate and the Senate didn’t even get a chance to debate this bill.
“While we have supported Labor’s amendments, they can’t sleep easy in thinking that they have made it easier for people to get exemptions from the card. There is a lot of concern about how 'community panels' are operating and they are a significant breach of privacy for income support recipients who already have to deal with the stigma of the card. There is also no requirement for people on the panels to have any experience of income support or vulnerable people.
“Make no mistake this Government wants to entrench this card, this is a failed social experiment and the ALP are now the enablers of this approach.
"The community have a right to ask how will the ALP handle this card if they win Government.”
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180