By Tina Clausen
The Cashless Debit Card – Income Management Scheme
Currently a bill is up for voting in Parliament in order to extend the existing ongoing years long ‘trials’ already happening in many places. This is to be done via imposing this draconian scheme on anyone of any age on any kind of social security benefit or pension, beginning with the Northern Territory (for now). (See links provided below).
The income management scheme is advertised as being a way to stop people using social security benefits/pensions on alcohol, gambling products and drugs, but not to worry as everything else is business as usual.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It restricts so much more than that, it is not just like an ordinary debit card in any other way.
Stripping away people’s right to manage their own finances, making them second-class citizens, having to endure abuse and stigmatisation, being automatically branded as drug/alcohol abusers, being financially worse off due to extra fees and charges for using the card, plus penalties for when Indue fail to pay bills set up for direct debit is all OK by you?
Being denied opportunities to make ends meet by accessing cheaper options via markets, garage sales, eBay, buy/sell groups, many online stores, cash in hand sales/repairs etc, is OK by you?
Many people don’t seem to realise that eBay, Gumtree, a large proportion of on-line businesses as well as many physical stores selling ordinary goods, plus local eating and entertainment places are on ‘Indue’s block list as you could potentially buy alcohol from them. Other excluded businesses have just not bothered to apply to be on Indue’s ‘Approved Merchants’ list. A number have even deliberately decided not to be on it in order to exclude people on Centrelink benefits from accessing their services. Some of these include motels and caravan parks. This has had devastating consequences for some people fleeing domestic violence situations. It is also pure discrimination.
Having to justify to Indue why you should be allowed to spend money (and how much) on items like e.g., specialty bras, some trade services, text books, spare parts, specialised medical equipment needs, school excursions, second hand cars, someone to mow your lawn, attending a school fete, cash needed for transport on regional buses, buying second-hand uniforms, emergency replacement of a second hand fridge or washing machine, emergency car repairs, etc (many being situations where cash is generally asked for) then having to wait days for approval (or not) after submitting an affidavit, photos and a letter that the vendor has to supply, all that is still okay by you?
Having your financial/credit rating destroyed by Indue whenever they fail to pay your rent or bills in time or fail to process them at all, is okay by you? Potentially becoming homeless because of this, having your rental history destroyed and real estate agents blacklisting you for non or late rental payments, and/or at the very least, once again continually incurring financial penalties and extra fees and charges is all okay by you?
All in the name of ‘punishing’ those few who may ‘waste’ some of their social security benefit on alcohol or drugs, for example.
Everyone on any kind of social security payment (not just job seekers but also carers, people on the Disability Support Pension, students, single parents, veterans etc, all now just have to put up with this ‘inconvenience’ for the sake of the common good?
In that case, I have a great idea for making our streets and communities safer.
Many workers are caught drink driving, some lose their licenses as a result (equivalent to someone losing their Newstart allowance if they don’t fulfil their mutual obligations). Others are given restricted licenses, e.g. can only drive during set hours for work or during the day. (A bit like the touted spending restrictions of the Cashless Debit Card. Except of course that people forced onto the income management scheme have never been convicted of any actual wrongdoing, they are just automatically presumed ‘guilty’ due to the very ‘crime’ of receiving any kind of social security payment. Hmm, also let’s not quibble about the fact that people spending money on alcohol or gambling products is not actually illegal to begin with in this country).
Dangerous drunk/drug driving is a scourge on our roads and communities; it causes untold damage, destruction of lives and families, increased financial costs due to everyone’s insurance costs going up. I could go on and on.
Now, it would seem to me (using the logic of our politicians) that in the name of the common good all workers should immediately be placed on restricted licenses as there are obviously too many workers who can’t properly appreciate the privilege of having a driver’s license and having permission to drive on our roads. Now, you may protest that you don’t take drugs or drink alcohol in an irresponsible manner so why should you be treated like a second-class citizen, punished and ‘inconvenienced’ for the wrongdoing of a few workers?
Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?
Are some people deemed more worthy of basic human rights than others in our society?
Be informed. The Bill for this has been put forward by our Government, look out all aged pensioners and anyone else on any type of social security payment. It was supposed to be about drugs and alcohol, but everyone is now arbitrarily targeted for the very crime of being a student, carer, job seeker, disabled, single parent, aged etc.
Submissions received (Out of the 172 submissions the Senate committee received the vast majority were against the card and had major concerns about how it operated and its negative effects on people. Our government chose to ignore those).