Cashless welfare cards to resume in Ceduna
Unemployed people in a handful of areas across Australia face the prospect of being shunted onto cashless welfare cards.
Entry to the controversial scheme has been paused for the past year, given the huge influx of people left unemployed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
But the federal government has decided to resume the program for people seeking income support.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said on Wednesday:
"Now that the number of Australians coming on to social security payments has returned to pre-pandemic levels it is appropriate to lift the pause."
Senator Ruston said the government would implement a staggered approach to shifting new entrants onto the long-running trial scheme.
The cashless debit cards quarantine up to 80 per cent of welfare payments so the money cannot be spent on alcohol or gambling.
The government has spent billions on the scheme, but a total figure has been withheld from the public because the cards are run by a private company.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert says there has been no evidence the cards are having a positive outcome or achieving their policy goals.
"This government is flogging a dead horse.
"Give it up. The card doesn't work. This cruel social experiment needs to end.
"I am deeply concerned that this card may keep people in violent situations and the low rate of income supports severely limits the options for women and children leaving violent homes."
Labor has lashed the policy as racist as it disproportionately affects Indigenous Australians.
CASHLESS WELFARE CARD LOCATIONS:
* Northern Territory
* East Kimberley and the Goldfields in Western Australia
* Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Cape York and Doomadgee in Queensland
* Ceduna in South Australia