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Labor government confirm compulsory income management will continue
Election promise to abolish cashless welfare was nothing but misdirection
The Antipoverty Centre condemns the Labor government’s decision to continue abusive compulsory income management. We had hoped our fears that the misleading election promise to “abolish” cashless welfare were misguided and we are devastated to have these fears realised.
Included below: comments from Antipoverty Centre spokesperson Jay Coonan
It is evident from day one that Labor are no better than a Coalition government in how they choose to harm people who rely on Centrelink payments to live.
While social services minister Amanda Rishworth crowed in parliament about ending the Cashless Debit Card, she was less vocal about the decision to continue it’s predecessor, the BasicsCard.
We extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity to every community subjected to the BasicsCard, and those on the Cashless Debit Card who must now wait to see whether they will be transferred and continue to have their income controlled by the government.
A number legislative instruments for income management end on 1 October 2022, creating an opening for the government to end income control entirely in just a few months.
Instead they have chosen to continue the Intervention-era program, which is not supported by evidence.
We fear the government will again turn the screws on welfare recipients, leaving the door open to expand income control throughout the social security system.
People in poverty are in crisis. The pressure on us is increasing every day and today’s inflation figures show this. And so far, all the new government has done is continue to punish us.
What people need is higher social security payments and better support services. Compulsory income control does nothing to provide the support that is needed.
Quotes attributable to Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and JobSeeker recipient Jay Coonan
Today is not a cause for celebration, as the ALP have finally announced they will continue the BasicsCard, an abusive income control program similar to the Cashless Debit Card.
The ALP are keeping harmful income control after telling voters they would abolish compulsory income management. They have the choice to dismantle it entirely, and instead they are choosing to continue this racist Intervention-era policy.
It is galling for them to have misled the public about their intention to “abolish” cashless welfare, because they haven’t. Keeping the BasicsCard is cruel, unnecessary and ineffective. It is worse when the prime minister uses his mother’s experience of social security for political gain, only to punish people like this.
Malarndirri McCarthy rightly called the BasicsCard “discriminatory and racist” when she condemned it during the Cashless Debit Card senate debate in December 2020. The Labor party cannot pretend it doesn’t know.
This abhorrent decision leaves the door open to expand income control further under the guise of “community consultations” – when it’s never the voices of people subjected to the card who are consulted. It was a Labor government that expanded cashless welfare last time they were in government and we fear it will be a Labor government who expands it again.
Media contact: 0403 429 414 / media at antipovertycentre.org
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About the Antipoverty Centre
The Antipoverty Centre was established in May 2021 by people living on Centrelink payments to counter problems with academics, think tanks and others in the political class making harmful decisions on behalf of people they purport to represent.
We have deep expertise in poverty, disadvantage and unemployment, because we live it. Our goal is to help ensure the voices and rights of people living in poverty are at the centre of social policy development and discourse. We believe there should be no decision made about us without us.
The Antipoverty Centre is not aligned with any political party and does not accept funding that places political constraints on our work.