The JUICE Media Podcast

Cashless Welfare Card | with The Say No 7

Episode Summary

Welcome to Episode 5, in which we go into more depth on the topic of our latest Honest Government Ad: the Cashless Welfare Card - aka Class Warfare Card. We speak with two members of the Say No Seven group, which has been spearheading the fight against this bullshit.

Episode Notes

Here's the video associated with this podcast episode: Honest Government Ad | Cashless Welfare Card

Upload a submission to the Senate Legislation Committee (Submissions close on October 18!). Instructions on how to make a submission to the Senate Legislation Committee available here.

For more information about the cashless debit card, visit the SAY NO SEVEN page on facebook

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Episode Transcription

[Giordano]
Hey everyone Giordano here. Welcome back to the juice media podcast, a companion to the honest government ads series brought to you by the Department of Genuine Satire. In our latest, honest government ad, we explored the Australian government's latest shit fuckery, the cashless debit card, also known as the cashless welfare card, or as we called it, the class warfare card. Here's a segment from the video.

[Honest Govt Ad]
Has your partner cut off access to your money? Do they control what you can and can't buy? Have they told you it's for your own good, that you've brought this upon yourself? If so, you might be in an abusive relationship, unless of course it's us doing it to you, in which case you're on the cashless welfare card. Hello, I'm from The Australien Government here to introduce the cashless welfare, or as we like to call it, class warfare card.
Soon to be rolled out nationally to everyone on income support the class warfare card will quarantine most of your money so you can't spend it on alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Don't drink, do drugs or gamble. That's okay. You're trying to access social security, so we want you to feel like a piece of shit. Class warfare card

[Music]

[Giordano]
Okay, so for this podcast, I am really excited to have been able to interview two people, two women who have been helping to lead the resistance against this piece of policy from the Australian government that is the cashless welfare or cashless debit card

[Music].

[Giordano]
There is a lot of confusion about this policy. There's a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of misinformation going around, which has opened the doors to floodgates of ignorant bullshit being spread and sprayed all over the internet, which is one of the reasons why we picked this topic for an honest government ad, because we really wanted to help people to understand the basics of this policy. If you haven't seen the video yet, go check it out. It's only a couple of minutes long. You can find it on our Facebook page, or YouTube, or our website, thejuicemedia.com but in essence, this policy is to force anyone on income support. So whether you're on a disability support, pension, or a carer, on youth allowance or new-start, or study, or parenting, or just topping up your income because you're not earning enough in your casual job. Instead of receiving your income support into your bank account, which is what's always happening is what is your right under the social security act, the government wants to amend the social security act so that that money instead of being paid to you is paid to a third party, a company called Indue, which would retain your 80% of your social security income and the only way that you can access that money is through this cashless debit card.

The reason it's called cashless is because you cannot use it at an ATM. You can't withdraw cash with it and you can only use it at certain allowed outlets. The argument for this, the reason the government wants to introduce this, is because they say that it will prevent people on income support from spending their money on prohibited items, which is alcohol, drugs, and gambling
So you won't be able to use the Indue card in stores that sell of those items, which includes many stores including, say,Aldi. It doesn't matter if you don't have a gambling or alcohol or drug addiction. If you should ever need income support of any form you would be placed on the card, once this policy is rolled out nationally. It also doesn't matter that there is no evidence to date to show that this card is actually effective at reducing those behaviors. So the policy doesn't seem to be driven by evidence, but by ideology.

The card has already been trialed out in select communities around Australia, including Ceduna in South Australia, in Hinckley, in Queensland, and despite opposition, and lack of evidence that it even works, the government is now trying to introduce it nationally. We are right now at a crossroads. There is a bill in parliament on the Senate which is about to be voted on, which will effectively allow the government to roll out the card nationally to everyone on income support. The hearing is coming up in November and submissions for the Senate and commission inquiry close on the 18th of October. So if you're listening to this, I'm going to put the link in the show notes and we're going to discuss it in more detail, but I urge you to make a submission and make your thoughts known about this because this fight is not over and it's very hard.

This is a struggle about information. If people are provided with the facts around this cashless debit card, it is guaranteed that most Australians, the vast majority, will say no fucking way to this policy. That people need to be aware of what is happening and when it's happening. And to shed light on all of that today I'm joined in conversation by two community members who are intimately acquainted with the policy, with the legislation, and with the impacts that this card, this policy, is having right now on individuals and communities in Australia. And they are helping to ring the alarm about this bill that is currently about to be voted on. Apologies in advance. The interview audio isn't the best. I'm still learning how to do all this podcast stuff, but I hope you find it useful and as always a reminder that if you appreciate and enjoy this podcast, please, please share it with your friends and let other people know about it so that we can grow our subscriber base. That's little Luka here, who's joined me in front of the microphone. Say hello Luka

[Luca]
Hello.

[music]

[Giodano]
Alright, welcome to the juice media podcast. I'm here with Catherine Wilkes and SNS2. Catherine is a community spokesperson, advocate for the Hinkler trial zone and manager of no cashless welfare, debit card Australia and SNS2, which is a code name to, maintain anonymity and privacy, is the primary editor and legislation wrangler, and moderator, at the Say No Seven community page, and both of them are founding members of the Say No Seven group, which has been kicking arse and raising awareness about the cashless debit card. Welcome.

[SNS2]
Hi.

[Catherine]
Hello. everybody.

[Giodano]
The headlines that we've seen at the moment are that there has been talk about a national rollout of the card is that it's that what's happening next?

[SNS2]
This bill that's currently in now. It's insidious.
It contradicts itself in several areas and, not just for what it's doing right now, but for what it will potentially allow to happen in the future. It's quite a dangerous bill. Now, throughout the last four years, I've called myself the fat lady and every time people get depressed, I say, look, I'm not singing yet. The fat lady is not singing. This bill. I'm singing. I am deadly serious. If this, if this particular bill passes as it's written, okay, there is going to be an enormous impact. First of all, it expands the trial that already exists for 12 months in all the other trial regions. So a one year trial, and that was the promise in the beginning. It was a one year trial to test whether or not this, the new style of Indue card, could, would use social harms, could reduce violence and drinking, and could stop people buying alcohol.

[SNS2]
Now we all know from the auditor general and a thousand other reports that that hasn't happened. So in it's first year already, it proved it wasn't everyone voted on to expand to get more data and more data, which is what we call data dredging. Their P hacking, they, they're just expanding the trial, trying to gather the data that actually fits their argument. But this bill expands it without any evidence because there is no current trial data available. The last trial data was not a 2017 and that's the, the RMO report that has been ripped to shreds by just about everybody. It removes all the cap numbers. There is no new cap number being in place. So while the way the trial was first limited to a 2000 then 5,000 people, then 10,000, now they're adding another, then it was 15,000 for Hinkler.
Then there was another extension of the trial cap numbers. This build doesn't include a new weight on your cap number, so it means it can be rolled out. But importantly, it grants the minister the power in this and in the Northern territory at this time, only to, to put a person's payment 100% completely on the card as opposed to the current income splits of 20%, 80%. This bill also removes the last of the independent oversights, which actually required the government to have independent,assesses, uh, interview clients for evaluations. So, I use that with clients that's really terrible and I'm sorry to the people on cards for using that word. These are forced trial participants. You know, people are not given a choice now they call them, you know, income managed and participants, but they're not, these people, excuse me, are being forced to go onto this card.

[SNS2]
So apart from the expanding to the two new trial sites of Cape York and the Northern territory, they are removing the last of the safety measures that were actually in the legislation. They're removing cap numbers. They're granting themselves new powers that you know, we simply cannot trust at this point given what they've done that those powers will be used only where they say they might or will. There is nothing in the bill that restricts them from using them anywhere else. The bill, as the bill is written will have the power to put anyone he likes on 100% sanction at any time.
There is nothing in the bill that would stop that from happening and it's because it's done by notifiable instrument. It's a big word and I'm sorry people, but a notifiable instrument basically means he can do it without telling anybody. He doesn't have to report to Senate, he doesn't have to explain why or he or she doesn't have to tell anybody's done it and there's no right of appeal. Okay. So people don't have a chance to appeal that at all. There is no appeals process involved in that and as we know, the AAT has been stacked with liberal members. So even in going through Centerlink, you're going to face a tribunal that is predominantly liberal party based, and it's dangerous. The potential here is for a blanket roll out, all payments, all ages, you know, 16 to a hundred anywhere they like. And that is, that is the key problem we have with this bill.

[Giordano]
The bill that you're referring to is coming up for a vote when?

[Catherine]
it will be sometime in November, probably that they'll, they'll battle it out in, in the Senate.

[Giordano]
So if people want to make a noise, if people want to write to their ministers, if people want to do something about it, the time to do that and to do that between now and November.

[Catherine]
Or you can get your submission in before the 18th of October and you don't have to be on the card to write a submission. If you don't like this idea, tell them.

[Giordano]
There's a link to do that. We can put that in the, in the show notes for the podcast.

[SNS2]
We'll do that.

[Catherine]
We know that this has never been about drugs, alcohol and people's actual welfare because the program..

[Giordano]
What is it about? What is it they're trying to achieve


[SNS2]
Alan Tudge, in his own electorate, during a town hall meeting, said they want to get the money out of the welfare community, right?

[Catherine]
Take the welfare dollars out of your community. So basically by funneling it to multinationals and the big shopping centers, taking it away from all of your community based, you know, your, your fund raisers, your markets, anything that runs on a cash economy within your community, even to the point of your school fundraisers and things like that the kids miss out because parents don't have cash, cheap book di father's day, mother's day stores,

[SNS2]
School uniforms, photographs, graduation photographs. And people don't have to buy these things on Indue, you know, school excursions, things that all cash economy, you know what I mean? It is definitely impacting communities, abilities to, to function as communities. The fact that government cannot force people to contract with private corporations against their will should be concerning to everybody. Absolutely everybody. Cause if this bill passes, it's not just it for the territory. You know, it's intervention, take two, for the territory. But this is the lead up to intervention Australia, you know, and th and that's really, people really need to be aware of that because the impacts will be systemic. You know, Catherine Haynes every day I hear everyday I have people coming to the page every day threatening to end their lives. If the card rolls out. And people during the last legislation I had to run a list, I had to actually start a mailing list for the amount of people who were in Hinkler region and, and other regions who were, who were feeling suicidal. And I'm not a professional. We send everyone to the professionals. I don't know. We're doing the best we can. I aren't we.

[Giordano]
Yeah. Who does this card effect? Because what we've seen in the comments or the video for the honors government ad that we made, one of the very common things is this response that it's like, Oh, well, you know, if you don't like it, go get a job. Basically implying that the people who were targeted by this, card are people who are simply unemployed and, or people who, you know, the sort of the stereotypical dole bludger who doesn't want to work. But what is the reality because I've read that actually the real face of, of income support recipients or people are over the age of 45 in their fifties, predominantly women and all and many times single parents. It's, which kind of smashes that stereotype. So could you tell us who are the kinds of people who have found themselves in this card?

[SNS2]
In the legislation this card's everywhere except Hinckley trial electorate, which is one of four current sites. All trigger payments and or respectable payments listed on the department website, which are, there's like, nearly 20, 20 individual payments, including DSP and carers. Disability support, sorry. Yes, all payments excepting age pension, and the DVA, which is department of veterans affairs have been placed on the card everywhere except in Hinkler. That's in the legislation right now. And we have people who are casual workers, people who are part time workers and several full time workers and small business owners are currently on cards right now.

[Catherine]
I mean, I've got parents, uh, one lady, she worked 70 hours a fortnight. There's other parents that work two jobs. So when we see the get a job, my response to those people is, but these people have a job. Some of them have two, how many more jobs do you want them to have?

[SNS2]
There's also the issue of people who are on disability pension. So we're not required to look for work. And as we're seeing now, the old age pension is being included for the first time into new trial sites in Cape York and Nothern Territory. So, you know, where is that justification

[Catherine]
There's no recognition for say, a parent who is a carer who is not required to look for work caring for a disabled child. Right? Or an elderly parent. You know, In the three of the trial sites you've got that situation and you get, get a job. They've got a job, it's 24, seven and they're saving the government $60 billion a year

[SNS2]
68 billion a year. It's on record.
But can I add to that? I have a lady who is on weekly payments and she wants to work, but the minute she accepts work and she can't get 38 hours a week straightaway right. So therefore it's only to be casual work. The minute she accepts that part time or casual job, she will be issued with the card, because she's under 35, right, on parenting payment in Hankler. So as much as she wants to get a job, it is stopping her from getting a job.

[Catherine]
It's actually acting as a disincentive.

[Giordano]
This is what I think a lot of people don't understand is that all you have to do to end up on this, heavily managed dystopian income management card where basically you, you might be in a position where you can buy nappies for your kids and you might be not be able to pay rent. Anyone could fall into this situation just by sheer bad luck. For example, somebody posted a comment saying, you know, my husband was, uh, an IT genius and he was earning a lot of money and then I became ill and he had to become my carer and we would technically be on this card simply through bad luck of our circumstance. This could happen to anyone.

[SNS2]
Anyone with reduced hours. If you, your job gets retrenched. Yes, you'd be, yeah. And you're in a trial zone, then yes, you'd be put on the card, but you know, people don't understand that if the hours are reduced, if they're no longer able and they need a top up payment, people getting just one woman wasn't catching $13 a month. She got from Centany and got a week from Centerlink and they, and the government spent $12,000 to put it on a card. You know, it's like for $13. It's ridiculous.

[Catherine]
We had several, across the England region, there are only getting $8 a fortnight. One person was only getting $3 a fortnight and they got the card.

[SNS2]
It's a waste of resources and money.

[Giordano]
It's, it's crazy because another one of the criticism that was that we've seen is like, you know, Oh, this is taxpayer money. People should be grateful for it, but the government is wasting more time. If that's what we worried about, they are spending much more money on this card than they are spending on actually helping people get back on their feet.

[SNS2]
Yeah. For any, for an example, the youth allowance payment for someone who's living at home is just over $12,000 and it costs $12,000 to put somebody on the card. And that's been verified in a Senate debate where Doug Cameron managed to wheedle that out of the minister at the time. So the payment is just over 12,000 and it's costing 12,000 so people when they say about taxpayer or public money, it's like, well, you know, you're spending double now. There is an exit option now that labor put in and during the last round of legislation, but nobody's been exempted through that process yet. And only 0.8% of all trial recipients have actually managed to get off the card through the wellbeing exemption that exists. They are making it almost impossible to get off. People have been given extremely short timeframes to see psychologists and doctors and specialists they can't afford.
[SNS2]
So they've effectively locking out all the loopholes to escape the program once you're on it, which is why we tell people say no, don't activate. Fight. You know, and this is our message. If it's possible for you to fight, fight. Because once you're on the system it is almost impossible to get off. The government uses the term captured by the card and that is perfectly describes what it's like being hunted down and captured for the simple fact that you require a lawful entitlement. The issue of the fact that it's going to a third party private corporation that you have to contract with a private corporation to get your legal government entitlements hasn't even been touched yet.

[Giordano]
This is really, really important for people to understand. Another one of the misconceptions that we've seen, and I've, I posted about this yesterday on Twitter and Facebook is this claim that, you know, that, the money belongs to the government, not to the, not to the recipient, so it's really not up to the recipient to decide how to spend their money, it's, you know, it's basically the idea that that, uh, income support is, or the welfare system, if you want to call it that, is sort of charity or it's like a, you know, it's a privilege that people have not a right. In law, this isn't correct. If I corr