The Senate has today passed legislation that will see those under 36 years old who are receiving Newstart, Youth Allowance or Parenting Payments and who are living in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region have 80% of their income support compulsorily quarantined onto the Cashless Welfare Card.
“Today I am sad and worried for the Hinkler community, who rather than getting the help they need from the people purporting to represent them, will now be subjected to this ideological and punitive card, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“I am really disappointed that unlike his former Centre Alliance colleagues, cross bencher Senator Tim Storer did not listen to the expert evidence or to the community and instead voted to pass this punitive and demeaning legislation.
“The Government also passed sneaky amendments that effectively reduce transparency and accountability by changing what is disallowable by the Parliament. This removal of what is disallowable gives the Minster even more control over people who are accessing incomes support’s lives.
“The Minster couldn’t even tell the Senate, just minutes before they were trying to pass this legislation if people who had moved away from the region to study would still be subjected to the card. This is not good enough, given that this is a card that targets people under 36. Many young people move for study.
“It is also unacceptable that the Government can’t even tell us how much this trial is costing. What are they trying to hide? The Parliament is accountable to the Australian people, not private companies looking to make a profit out of social services.
“As we have heard through evidence to the inquiries, the card will push people in Hinkler further in to poverty. We are talking about young people, people struggling to find work and people on Parenting Payments, the most of whom are young women.
“People in the region will today be stressed about how they will get by with being denied access to cash. How they will be able to buy second hand goods and clothes for the kids, shop at the market, and make sure Indue actually pays their bills.
“The evidence from academics, experts and the Auditor General is clear, the evidence isn’t there to justify continuing with the card, yet the Government and some of the cross-bench have gone ahead.
“Income management didn’t work during the NT Intervention and it won’t work now. The Greens are the only party that have opposed income management every single step of the way.
“We have had three Senate inquiries into the Cashless Welfare Card and I have sat with my colleagues and we have all heard the same evidence from the experts and the community that income management does not work and is causing people harm.
“The card won’t get people jobs, it won’t help them with addictions, it will simply make their lives harder, pushing them further into poverty. This money should be spent on wrap around services and increasing Newstart and Youth Allowance payments.
“This Government has an agenda and it is stigmatising and demeaning of people who dare to access the social safety net.”
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie 0418 401 180