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Cashless Welfare – Enough is Enough!

Yesterday I watched Bill Shorten’s address on the McKell Institute’s Report ‘Choosing Opportunity’ where he spoke passionately about equality and a fair go. However, to achieve real opportunity, the first thing we must acknowledge is that stigma and discrimination are not conducive to equal opportunity.

Income Management, Cashless Welfare and Basics Card all have the same aim. The aim is a paternalistic approach of a ‘guiding hand’ to set those unfortunate enough not to have a job on the path to ‘wholeness.’

The aim of income management is to enforce a patronising approach which places the burden of shame and stigma on the unemployed, because the Government cannot be bothered to engage in job creation; because oh! that’s right, “the market will sort it all out.” Bullocks!

The aim of income management is to inconvenience, stigmatise, and label the unemployed as ‘others’ who are not part of the ‘normals’ in society.

The aim of income management is to conduct surveillance of the unemployed (Dee, 2013).

The aim is to extend a measure that was originally aimed at reducing alcohol abuse and child abuse in remote communities and now has extended to so many. The current and previous Governments have placed control measures on those who do not need controlling. That is not the “Fair Go” Australians long to return to.

With the NT having more than four times the number of all the other income management sites combined, it really begs the question if this measure is indeed racist and the extension of this measure is to appear ‘not racist!’

The McKell Institute explains three types of welfare models in their report:

“The study identified three main forms of welfare state: the ‘liberal welfare regime,’ which emphasised market efficiencies and demonstrated limited government interventions; the ‘corporatist regime’ which is committed to preserving the traditional family, and invest in social insurance programs that encourage motherhood and provide benefits that encourage mothers to return to work; and finally the ‘social democrat’ model which pursues equality.

If the underpinning construct of Bill Shorten’s speech and the McKell Institute’s report is equality; then income management simply must be high on the list to be abolished.

With donations reform and perks for politicians in a huge big glaring spotlight; Australians should be rising up and screaming about situations such as the excerpt below, instead of getting reeled into the agenda set by the media. I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of people absolutely fixated on the Dastyari saga and counter-attacking with dodginess from the Liberals. Meanwhile, in the land of cashless welfare, people can eat plastic or starve!


It is time for change. It is time to stand up now. It is time to stand up for the jobless, the homeless, the disadvantaged, and the disabled, who have their income managed by the Government. These are the people who matter. These people. The innocent, the vulnerable, the labelled and stigmatised.

Enough is enough. If you truly believe in a Fair Go. If you truly believe the Fair Go underpins everything we believe as Australians, please write a letter to the following insisting on the abolition of mandatory income management for welfare recipients in Australia.

Minister for Social Services
The Hon Christian Porter MP

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services
Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Members representing your electorate
Your local MP

Senators in your state

Enough is enough!

Originally published on Polyfeministix

Dee, M 2013, ‘Welfare Surveillance, Income Management and New Paternalism in Australia’, Surveillance & Society, 11, 3, pp. 272-286.



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  1. jim

    Great post again, have we really got a government this stupid and cruel unfortunately we do, have they not thought the crime rise this cruel act will bring,

    The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

    There is absolutely nothing to be said for government by a plutocracy, for government by men very powerful in certain lines and gifted with ‘a money touch,’ but with ideals which in their essence are merely those of so many glorified pawnbrokers: Theodore Roosevelt…IMO that applies today more than ever.

  2. Trish Corry

    Thanks Jim. Great quotes. So Apt.
    I am getting so fed up with the media making such huge issues about certain things and remaining silent on issues like people starving because of Government decisions.

  3. Freethinker

    I agree Trish, the media dedicated considerable time to the achievements in the economy, the 3.2 GDP growth but not much time to the Food Bank report that show how bad it is the situation in our country.

  4. paulwalter

    It is a rotten, oppressive approach..Poor Laws, moralistic stuff with a racist beginning and yet more brutal psychological subjugation for welfare beneficiaries overall to whom the approach is extended toward, to whom there has been a long standing and worsening pattern of almost redneck and populist bullying from the dumbed down Narrow Society.

  5. Trish Corry

    We have the basic’s card in my town and it is abhorrent. It is degrading. It actually endangers people. If a young person runs out of fuel late at night, there is no guarantee the closest servo they are going to has the basics card. I had this out with the department because I became aware of this issue with a young woman I know and their only answer was “if a service doesn’t have the basic’s card you can contact us and we can put it through” What? at 3 am in the morning?

  6. Trish Corry

    Free watching Turnbull harp on about his achievements this morning made me sick.

  7. nexusxyz

    The LNP is vile and only exists to destroy what the other lot put in place. Attacking those that have little voice and unable to defend themselves to save a few millions while the jerks piss away billions of Treasury on utterly useless weapons is immoral and disgusting. We will end up with a situation like the UK where malnutrition is common and people commit suicide due to the draconian and inhuman rules. The dumb-arse globalisation and neoliberal model is killing nations and communities and will do the same to Australia. The poor are the first to be sacrificed.

  8. Harquebus

    Cashless welfare is the trial run for a cashless society.

    “The War on Cash continues to gain momentum within the circles of the politically influential.”
    “The friends of tyrants rarely have much to fear from tyranny.”

    Search criteria: war on cash

  9. Trish Corry

    That is a very good point Harquebus. I shall need to look into that.

  10. paulwalter

    They can theoretically cut you off when they feel like it.

    Harquebus, thanks for link.

  11. Matthew Oborne

    presumably making them wear an arm patch that said leaner was too hard to get through the senate.

  12. townsvilleblog

    The plight of working people has forever been so. My Grandfather used to tell me if the workers would stand together there would be nothing that they could not achieve, and that remains true today, as it was in the 80s’. However trying to get a workers collective, a true union of working people is as difficult as herding cats. We are under attack from the tories in so many ways for our meager wages, cashless society is but one way. I have noticed a petition sprung up yesterday for a fair go for pensioners.

    Our generation (I’m 60) stood and fought for the wages and conditions enjoyed today, not that they are brilliant, but we had to fight hard to get them. With the median Australian wage on $43,000 per annum, less tax, it is no wonder young people are doing it tough, as we did before them. We sacrificed to get ahead, I worked 3 jobs for 7 years to get myself out of debt. That effort buggered me to the point I can no longer work or handle stress. I think sacrifice is a forgotten philosophy these days. I still vehemently support the underdog, the median Australian wage earner, with every piece of energy I can muster, and always will. My union was the ASU, they were very supportive.

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