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Greens: Labor must be true opposition and reject healthy welfare card

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 19 Aug 2015

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has today said the Australian Greens will oppose the legislation introducing a healthy welfare card and called on the ALP to do the same.

"I urge the Labor party to be genuine opposition when it comes to voting on legislation that will seek to rollout the healthy welfare card trials.

“It is incomprehensible that a paternalistic thought bubble by a billionaire could materialise with the support of the Labor party, rolling out as early as next year.   

80% of someone’s income support forcibly quarantined to a card will make life remarkably harder for this already struggling group.

“Limiting access to cash will severely restrict the ability to budget and decision making. Whether it be at the markets, lunch money for their kids, or a bus fare – all these things add up and may not be available via card payment. 

"Most importantly people have spoken of being made to feel like second class citizens when talking about their independence and dignity.

“We know that paternalistic top down measures do not work. Income management has not worked. We know from evaluations that income management hasn’t delivered results. The healthy welfare card is just a continuation of this approach.

“The Government should focus its energies on a range of measures and wrap around supports; just restricting spending and access to cash doesn’t address the underlying causes and people will find other ways to buy alcohol and money for gambling.

“The Government and it appears the Opposition are desperately supporting silver bullet measures, these are complex issues that need to be addressed.

“The Australian Greens will not be supporting the healthy welfare card in the House of Representatives or the Senate. We will move to send this measure through to a Community Affairs inquiry so that it can be further scrutinised.

“We must abandon top down approaches that have failed in the past and will fail again. We must work closely with community members to address disadvantage.”

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