Cashless welfare card future in doubt as ALP opposes trials in Goldfields, Bundaberg
Labor will not support expanding trials of the cashless welfare card to WA’s Goldfields or to Bundaberg in Queensland, putting the viability of the program’s expansion in jeopardy.
“Labor believes that there is insufficient credible evidence at this point to support the establishment of further trials of the cashless debit card,” Labor MPs Jenny Macklin and Linda Burney said in a statement.
However, the party said it would support the continuation of the trials in the East Kimberley and Ceduna because of the community support the trials had received.
“Given the significant cost of the trials, an accrued cost of around $125.5 million or about $12,000 per participant, we must be sure that the cashless card can deliver its stated objectives,” they said.
Labor said there was not enough consultation in the Goldfields and Bundaberg about trials of the card, and said additional “wraparound” support needed to be provided to participating communities.
The card is designed to limit access to cash and quarantines a majority of people’s welfare money towards a debit card used for essential items like food.
The trials began last year in Kununurra in WA’s East Kimberley and Ceduna in South Australia
Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said she was “disappointed” to learn the ALP would not be supporting the Government’s expansion.
Ms Price said the Opposition’s view was very “narrow” and the Government was confident the initiative was “saving lines”.
“The communities that are going to be able to get onto this next trial — they are desperate for help and this is going to help them,” she said.
The Government’s expansion of the trials depends on the Social Services Amendment Bill being passed.
But with Labor and the Greens holding a combined 35 seats in the Senate, the Coalition will be relying on the crossbench to pass the legislation.