Showing posts with label Centrelink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Centrelink. Show all posts

Monday, 11 December 2017

Turnbull Government's gift to welfare recipients this Christmas? More pain....


Nothing like receiving bad news in the lead up to the festive season......

News.com.au, 6 December 2017:

CONTROVERSIAL plans to drug test unemployed welfare recipients will be suspended indefinitely after the Senate refused to endorse the idea.

The Turnbull government had hoped to drug test 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients across three trial sites in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia from January.
But Social Services Minister Christian Porter indicated this morning provisions for the pilot will be stripped from an omnibus welfare bill and dealt with separately, so other measures can be signed off by Christmas.

“There are some difficulties that are going to be presented in getting that part of the bill through the Senate, but that does not mean that we are abandoning drug testing,” Mr Porter told Sky News.

“No one can be perfectly certain with these things but my best assessment is the rest of it, everything other than drug testing, will likely succeed through the Senate.”

Minister Porter stood by the trial last month but indicated it might be split from other reforms that were crucial to overhaul the “near to dysfunctional” welfare system.

“The bulk of that bill, which reforms the compliance system, is so critical to what we are trying to achieve that I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the bulk of that in terms of timeliness while we are still negotiating around drug testing,” Mr Porter said at a National Press Club speech in November.

One reform the government wants to pass as a priority is the new “three strike” demerit point system for welfare recipients that would mean those who continually skipped appointments or job interviews would eventually lose their payments.

Another will fold seven welfare payments into one to become the main payment for people of working age.

That is slated to begin in March 2020.

According to the Australian Council Of Social Services (ACOSS) this bill:

* Sets a dangerous precedent that allows governments to determine who is covered by social security rights and protections and who is not, without legislation;

* Would make it more difficult for people to access payments;

* Will make applicants wait much longer for first payments and, in certain cases this could be as long as 26 weeks;

* Cuts payments to people seeking work by removing back-pay provisions;

* Cuts $478m from social security payments over the forward estimates, with most losses incurred by people who are unemployed and single parents;

* Rolls Wife and Widow B pensions & allowances (including the Bereavement Allowance) into the Jobseeker Payment which will leave pension recipients worse off unless they are transferred to another pension;

* Ensures that the Jobseeker Payment keeps recipients living well below the poverty line so that they will be unable to meet essential costs; and

* The new mutual obligation requirements and breach schedule indicates that annually an est. 80,000 people will lose at least one week’s payment and an unknown number up to four week’s payment.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

And now for some good news.....


Via @simonahac, 24 November 2017

Facebook, Senator Rachael Siewert, 22 November 2017:

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has welcomed the Town of Port Hedland officially opposing the cashless welfare card.
“Despite the Mayor’s strong support of the card, I am glad other councillors have stood up to the card and now officially oppose it in Port Hedland.

“They have listened to Aboriginal organisations and others in the community that have explained how the card is a step backwards and will remove autonomy for those forced on to it.
“Time and time again we have seen evidence that involuntary income management does not help people struggling to get by, during the NT Intervention the long –term objectives were not met.

“Top-down income management policies that attempt to reduce disadvantage often has the opposite effect. It is time to ditch this ideological approach to addressing gambling and alcohol and drug addiction once and for all.

“We need investment in preventative measures and wrap-around services for those struggling with addiction”.

Friday, 3 November 2017

So how much Centrelink client debt was not debt at all in 2015-16 & 2016-17?


Australian Minister for Social Services Christian Porter is quick to point the finger but often very slow with concrete answers, so it is always a boon when annual departmental reports are published.

In September 2017 the latest DSS annual report was published.

Although carefully disguised in the wording "waived or written off"; by adding the 2016-17 annual report's financial statements together with the previous year’s annual report, one finds that the admitted amount of false client debt generated by Centrelink’s disastrous attempt to match Australian Taxation Office data with its own client records could possibly be as high as $264.645 million over a two financial year period.

As challenging a Centrelink debt letter was a distressing and often extremely difficult obstacle course for many welfare recipients, these hundreds of millions of dollars represent the determination of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians to fight back against false claims made on their wallets by government and the besmirching of their reputations.

On 26 October 2017 The Canberra Times reported that; Human Services official Jason McNamara told a Senate estimates hearing that in 202,000 cases where the department finalised the debt amount, 49,000 welfare recipients who received letters since the 'robo-debt' program started in July 2016 were found to owe nothing.

That means that 25.25% of these 202,000 debt notices were false claims as the Centrelink client was found to owe nothing.

In July and August this year Centrelink sent out a total of 114,000 debt letters.

At least est. 28,785 of these letters will probably represent a false claim of debt.

I hope all Centrelink clients who received one of these letters are querying each and every one.

BACKGROUND

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

News Corp joins Turnbull Government in bashing welfare recipients yet again


A report released by the Federal Government's Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW] on 19 October 2017 states that welfare spending in 2016 reached 9.5 per cent of Australia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) having been increasing on average by 0.09 per cent or est. $4 billion annually over the last ten financial years.

Some of this increase is inevitably due to population growth over the same period - between 2006 and 2016 the national population grew by 3.18 million people to reach a population total of 24.20 million.

However, the media suitably primed began to discuss welfare costs principally in terms of cash transfers to Centrelink clients.

But does such discussion take in the whole picture of welfare costs in this country? 

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) there are a large number of concessions, offsets and rebates available to working and retired individuals, active businesses, family trusts and superannuation funds.

These can reduce the annual tax payable by an individual, business, trust or fund – sometimes as low as zero dollars.

Along with universal education and health services, Centrelink and Veterans’ Affairs pensions, benefits, and concessions; these ATO concessions, offsets and rebates are a form of government welfare.

So when the Murdoch media trumpet statistics like Last year, more than 733,000 people received unemployment benefits, costing $10 billionwith est. 68 per cent of recipients moving off this payment within a year - remember that Australian Government tariff, budgetary assistance and tax concessions to primary, mining, manufacturing and services industries totalled $15.1 billion in 2015-16 and, based on past performance, an estimated 33 per cent of all businesses would probably have paid zero tax in that year.

Put simply, Australian Government welfare directed at industry cost taxpayers est. $41.3 million per day in 2015-16.

And when these same News Corp megaphones go on to state that “more than 100,000 jobseekers who were on the dole for at least five years had cost taxpayers $15 billion over the past decade” – readers might like to recall that the Australian Government spent in the vicinity of est. $96 billion on industry assistance in the six years commencing 2010-11 and ending 2015-16.

[Australian Government, Productivity Commission Annual Report Series, Trade & Assistance Review 2015-16]

If a similar level of government assistance were to continue for another four financial years then government welfare received by industry would reach est. $156 billion over ten years.

That's over ten times the quoted amount in welfare payments outlaid on the long term unemployed in a decade.

However, when the likes of Liberal Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge, Liberal Minister for Social Services Christian Porter, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz or One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson talk about the cost of government welfare programs they rather strangely neglect to look at the full range of federal government financial assistance across all sectors of the economy – preferring instead to target vulnerable groups of people with little ability to fight back against their distorted, punitive and highly politicised world views.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

So troubled multinational Serco's staff are going to answer phone calls made to Centrelink in a Turnbull Government pilot program?


Multinational Serco Group plc registered in England and Wales, with revenue in 2016 of an est. $5 billion and an underlying trading profit of est. $139 million, has made the news again.

One of its subsidiaries, SERCO CITIZEN SERVICES PTY LTD1 ABN:89 062 943 640, won this $53.75 million federal government contract commencing 7 September 2017:

CN ID: CN3460117
Agency: Department of Human Services
Publish Date: 11-Oct-2017
Category: Temporary personnel services
Contract Period:
7-Sep-2017 to 29-Oct-2019
Contract Value (AUD): $53,752,454.80
Description: Centrelink Call Centre Enhancements Initiative

On 11 October 2017 it was reported that the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge stated this contract was for a pilot commencing in late October 2017 would help reduce Centrelink call wait times.

An est. 250 Melbourne-based Serco staff will take calls about welfare payments in the three-year pilot program.


Of course Serco will comply, Minister.

Just as it has on every single contract in the past......

Stolen Laptop Exposes Personal Data on 207,000 Army Reservists. Serco held the data on reservists as part of its contract with the U.S. Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation division. As a result, Dahms said, some of the data on the missing laptop may belong to dependents and spouses of U.S. Army reservists, 13 May 2010

Serco's paper trailer raises accountability questions. Crikey has taken a closer look at the extent that Serco contracts outsources to other companies and can reveal that millions of dollars from the detention contract has ended up in some startling places, 1 November 2010

Serco employee suspected of Victoria Police breach. Man accused of adjusting 67,541 traffic infringement records, 15 April 2011


Serco operates and maintains a surprisingly large and diverse range of services in both the UK and Australia, as well as in several other countries. Its website lists some examples of the scale of its operations including: traffic management systems covering more than 17,500kms of roads worldwide, managing 192,000 square miles of airspace in five countries, managing education authorities on behalf of local governments, and providing defence support services worldwide.[2] Serco also manages a number of hospitals, prisons and detention centres, and is involved in a host of other services.[3]…..Focussing on the company Serco, there have been numerous reports of instances where its service provision has been sub-standard, high-cost, has eliminated diversity, or has lacked accountability. Putting this focus on Serco’s faults is not to say that it is any more prone to failures than other corporations in this area, or that it is always unsuccessful in its service provision. Rather, the point is to show clearly the dangers of privatisation, and why it must not be accepted as a universal good, 7 March 2012



Sources in the justice system blamed the foul-up on staffing issues at Serco. One said: "This sort of thing happens every week." The seven-year PECS deal has turned into a horror show for Serco. It faces allegations that it doctored transfer records to flatter its performance, with five Serco staff under investigation by the City of London police. That is not its only problem contract. There are separate claims that, along with rival outsourcer G4S, it overcharged taxpayers on a deal to put electronic tags on criminals, 17 October 2013

Private contractors Serco has agreed to repay £68.5million to the taxpayer after over-charging for tagging criminals. The firm was investigated by the Ministry of Justice over claims that together with rival company G4S it over-charged for tens of thousands of criminals, including those who had left the country, been returned to prison or even died, 19 December 2013

Outsourcing giant Serco is embroiled in a fresh misuse of public funds scandal after a company it set up overcharged NHS hospitals millions of pounds, 27 August 2014

Serco is failing, but is kept afloat thanks to Australia's refugee policy. It’s a sign of the times that a company like Serco, with murky financial statements masking its true economic shape, is continually rewarded for failure by new and larger contracts, 11 November 2014

Serco turned 'blind eye' to corruption in UK immigration jail, court hears, 26 February 2015

Serco has brought a culture of profiteering, bullying, intimidation and corruption to Mt Eden prison, a Whangarei barrister says.The comments come as controversy surrounds the private company that operates the prison, and with Corrections boss Ray Smith revealing a third incident at the facility has left him no choice but to seek legal advice in regards to the contract, 24 July 2015

On Monday, Serco was fined $NZ500,000 ($A328,750) and was prohibited from overseeing operations at the correctional facility while an internal investigation took place. The fine came after six disturbing videos — shot on a smartphone and smuggled inside the prison — surfaced on YouTube earlier this month. The videos showed prisoners participating in organised ‘fight clubs’ as large groups of fellow inmates watch on. Inmates were also seen blatantly smoking and drinking alcohol in the videos, which were captured without the knowledge of staff. However, the NZ prison officers union said bosses knew about the fight club for up to 18 months, but did nothing about it, 29 July 2015

A GUARD at the Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin has been fired after it was found he was trying to coerce female detainees into having sex with him. Serco, the company contracted to run Australia’s immigration facilities, said in a statement to the NT News that a detainee services officer from Wickham Point was dismissed in late May following two separate complaints from female detainees, 6 August 2015





Serco targets further cost cutting as it seeks to keep its profits on track. Serco boss Rupert Soames has said the company still has costs to cut before it is trading at full strength, as the firm enters the middle stage of its five-year turnaround plan. He said that there were plans to further reduce overheads and make Serco’s processes more efficient, as well as bringing down some of its IT costs. “We’ve still got a lot of costs that we have to get out of the business,” he said, 3 August 2017.



Footnotes

1. Serco provides care and welfare services, on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, to people living in Australian onshore immigration centres whilst their visa status is resolved. Since 2009, more than 61,000 individuals have been in our care, representing more than 20 different cultural and linguistically diverse communities. Within the Australian justice system, Serco operates three prisons: the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (Queensland) with 400 beds, Acacia Prison (Western Australia) with 1400 beds and the Wandoo Reintegration Facility (Western Australia) with 80 beds.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Centrelink Mandatory Drug Testing: Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation calls on the Australian Government to stop playing games with people's lives


In its drive to universally implement the Cashless Debit Card for all welfare recipients, the Abbott Government first targeted remote indigenous communities to ‘trial’ this income management restrict and control scheme. The Turnbull Government then selected certain low-socio economic urban areas for further trials.

Now the Liberal-Nationals federal government intends to extend the reach of this card even further and from 1 July 2018 intends to impose compulsory drug testing on 5,000 new recipients of unemployment benefits – with all who test positive for alcohol or drugs being immediately placed on restricted and controlled payments regardless of their personal circumstances.

All those government MPs and senators cushioned by generous salaries and benefits from life’s vagaries have chosen this group because of the illegality of many of the drugs it will test for, as they think that all Australians will blame those with substance abuse problems and feel comfortable with the idea that they should be punished in some way.

These MPs and senators do not appear to give a toss that in an effort to eventually control the income support payments of all welfare recipients, it will socially profile and discriminate against a specific group of people with little if any positive outcomes flowing from this discrimination.

Because it is admitted that cutting off access to cash may exacerbate mental health issues, increase homelessness and lead the desperate into crime.

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 which contains this measure is currently before the federal parliament and, the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee is due to report on this bill on 4 August 2017.

So a call has gone out……….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For 30 years, I served as the head of St Vincent's Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service in Sydney.

I have treated many thousands of patients trying to rebuild their lives in the face of alcohol and drug problems. Many have been victims of sexual abuse, violence from family members, or other devastating trauma – and most are already living on the margins of society.

That's why I'm stunned by the government's plan to strip people with alcohol and drug problems of income support payments.1

Thirty years of experience, backed by research from all over the world, tells me that you can't punish people into recovery. In fact, pushing people into poverty only serves to undermine their chance of recovery – and puts lives at risk.

Over the coming weeks, Parliament will vote on whether to implement mandatory drug testing. Doctors, nurses and allied health workers – determined to protect patients – are speaking out against the changes.


Prime Minister Turnbull assures us that the proposal to strip people of income support payments is "based on love".2 That's a hard thing to swallow given his government's failure to consult with addiction medicine experts and lack of evidence to support the trials.

Mandatory drug testing has already been trialled and abandoned in multiple countries around the world. It's a failed policy that violates our professional commitment to do no harm. This government is forcing doctors to make an impossible choice – to break the law or to hurt our patients.

I've seen with my own eyes how medical treatment of people struggling with severe alcohol and drug problems must be guided by compassionate care and respect for their human rights.

Call on the government to stop playing political games with people's lives: https://www.getup.org.au/help-not-harm-petition

Sincerely,

Dr Alex Wodak

President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation

References:

[1] Drug testing welfare recipients is not about love, Malcolm Turnbull, it's about punishment, The Guardian, 11 May 2017

[2] Federal budget 2017: Turnbull says welfare drug test policy 'based on love', ABC News, 12 May 2017

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now! To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.

Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders - past, present and future - and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.

Authorised by Paul Oosting, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Thursday, 8 June 2017

So you want to drug test welfare recipients, Mr. Porter?




A handy little DSS fact sheet informs us that drug testing at three trial sites will run for two years and that; The tests will detect use of drugs including ecstasy, marijuana and methamphetamines, including ice. However, the minister and his department remain silent as to the cost of this program.
                                                                                                                                                
We-ell…… I just don’t find any of these statements a convincing argument for drug testing a select number of Centrelink recipients on unemployment benefits commencing 1 January 2018, in the hope that just 8.48 per cent of them will initially test positive.

After all the workforce generally seems likely to have the same addictive issues and no-one is talking of drug testing them before distributing wages.

For example:

In 2013, just over 40% of Australians either smoked daily, drank alcohol in ways that put them at risk of harm or used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months; 3.1% engaged in all 3 of these behaviours. [National Drug Strategy Household Survey Detailed Report 2013]

Over 48,000 Australians were on a course of pharmacotherapy treatment for their opioid dependence on a snapshot day in June 2015.

Wastewater analysis conducted in the latter half of 2016 shows that alcohol and tobacco consumption was the highest of all substances tested in all states and territories.

Declines were seen in recent use of some illegal drugs in 2016 including meth/amphetamines (from 2.1% to 1.4%), hallucinogens (1.3% to 1.0%), and synthetic cannabinoids (1.2% to 0.3%).
About 1 in 20 Australians had misused pharmaceuticals in 2016 (4.8%).

While the number of politicians over the years who have allegedly been drunk in charge of a parliamentary vote is notable – everyone from prime ministers and cabinet ministers right down to lowly backbenches if a recent Google search is a reliable indicator.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Turnbull Government identifies a new source of revenue and there are no prizes for guessing from whom


Now that the Turnbull Government has embraced big data and begun collecting and collating information on all citizens across multiple agency platforms, there is a temptation to explore all the money-making potential of this data.

In March 2016 Treasurer Scott Morrison requested that the Productivity Commission:

Examine the benefits and costs of options for increasing availability of public sector data to other public sector agencies (including between the different levels of government), the private sector, research sector, academics and the community. Where there are clear benefits, recommend ways to increase and improve data linking and availability.

Upfront the aim to gather more information, limit ownership rights of citizens with regard to their own personal information and to sell-on data it collects on citizens is apparent, however it takes a few pages of the Commission’s report to discover that it probably also intends to make additional money out of the ordinary individuals who have been forced to supply government agencies with this same detailed data.

If the Commission recommendation (that a charge can levied by an agency when a citizen requests access to their data) is accepted then, by way of example, the door will have been opened to charge a cost to welfare recipients who request Centrelink statements of income required twice-yearly by social housing agencies, or who request their Basic Card transaction records for a specific period if there is a concern relating to a pension/benefit/allowance periodic payment or who request that data held in e-Health records be edited/corrected if it contains erroneous information.

Of course, this being a report whose terms of reference reflect the wishes of a right-wing federal government - the intention appears to be that all business or government agency charges to supply the individual with his or her own data will be set by those same businesses or agencies with little or no limit on the size these fees.

Australian Government Productivity Commission, Inquiry Report, Data Availability and Use: Overview & Recommendations, 31 March 2017:

Knowing when your data has been sold
One of the most potentially pernicious practices with data is the onward trade or disclosure of data to third parties, leaving consumers unaware of who knows what about them. The damage is often not so much in monetary terms but in the feeling of exploitation. This has great capacity to undermine social licence over time, if misused. Around half of all Australians surveyed by Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) have expressed concern about unknown organisations having obtained their personal information.
We do not propose that consumers be advised on each occasion data is traded or otherwise disclosed to a third party — the burden on businesses using contractors and outsourcing aspects of their operations could be enormous. Moreover, consumers in some areas could be inundated. But advising on which organisations data has been traded or disclosed to is a reasonable expectation of what is, after all, a joint right to data. You should surely be informed that something in which you now have a joint right is traded or disclosed to a third party.
Accordingly, entities should inform consumers about their data being traded or disclosed by including in their privacy policies, terms and conditions or on their websites, a list of parties to whom consumer data has been traded or otherwise disclosed over the past 12 months. Such lists should easily accessible to consumers and updated in a timely manner.
Consumers may also be at risk of loss of data access on the wind up of a firm. In such circumstances, consumers should always be advised of who now holds their data if it is transferred (as an asset) by the insolvency practitioner; or dataset owner if the data is separately sold.
Costs, timeliness and transition
We recognise that there may be costs to business associated with their adherence to the Right. There are a number of aspects of the recommendation that seek to ensure these are manageable.
First, as noted above, it is expected that industry sectors themselves would determine the scope of data to be transferred, subject to approval by the ACCC.
Second, businesses and government data holders would be able to charge for costs reasonably incurred in transferring consumer data. We fully expect that there may be a tiered approach to such charges, namely that some digital data that is of high quality, readily available, and clearly identifiable with a particular individual (such as transactions data), should be made available at low or no cost and at relatively short notice. Data stored on different (yet still digital) systems, or that is of lesser quality may require additional effort to provide in a usable format and therefore could attract a higher charge and take longer. This would be for data holders themselves to determine and explain.
Our intention in recommending the creation of this Right is to enhance consumer outcomes, as a contribution to sustaining community support for the role data will play in the future. Business and governments as data holders would need to adjust to this Right. Neither should have interests in creating a process that was so costly as to prohibit its take up by most if not all consumers, as this would be counter to enhancing consumer outcomes and may eventually undermine the quality of data collections.
To make the process manageable, it is surely preferable to offer the parties affected in incurring expense the chance to meet the intent of the Right, namely enabling consumers to use their data. This is likely to involve degrees of iteration and transition. But the clear expectation is that there would be transparency on the part of businesses and agencies. Over time as systems evolve, the time taken and the cost involved should fall as these processes become part of each firm growing its business or government agency keeping faith with its clients, and while volume of data transferred might reasonably be expected to grow.
Similarly, it is expected that businesses and government data holders themselves would likely reap benefits from system transformation and better data management, such that all of the costs would not reasonably fall to consumers availing themselves of the Right.
Support for consumers in exercising their new Right
The ACCC would be the primary government entity charged with ensuring consumers are able to transfer their data and exercise their new rights. Specifically, any charges levied by data holders for access, editing, copying and/or transferring of data should be monitored, with the methodology used by a data holder recorded, transparent (such as on the data holder’s web page) and reviewable on request by the ACCC.
While recourse for consumers not satisfied with the way their new Comprehensive Right can be exercised could primarily be through the ACCC, we recognise there are other bodies — industry-specific ombudsmen, State and Territory fair trading offices, and the OAIC — that may have industry-specific skills and knowledge to deal with particular complaints. There should be a ‘no wrong door’ approach to this. This means the key regulators need to implement systems that enable consumer concerns to be handled with efficacy — not leave the consumer straddling a regulator abyss.
While the changes proposed aim to enable consumers to exercise more control over the collection and use of their data, the onus remains on individuals to make responsible choices regarding to whom they provide personal information in the first instance and for what purposes.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Meet the new 'welfare bashers' on the block


North Coast Voices readers who follow Twitter may have noticed the account @creatingparity which is pushing the idea of a national Cashless Debit Card (CDC) for welfare recipients which will severely restrict an individual's choice in how they bank and spend any fortnightly/periodic payment or lump sum – only allowing access to an inadequate amount of cash in hand for bus, rail, taxi  fares and purchases from stores/businesses which don't accept debit cards outright or only accept cards if their own minimum purchase price is reached.

Creating Parity

On 4 May 2017 Whois listed Neil Pope as the registrant contact person of creatingparity.org.au. Mr. Pope is Technology Manager at the Minderoo Foundation.

Minderoo Foundation Pty Ltd (formerly known as the Australian Children's Trust Pty Ltd) is a 15 year-old WA-based corporation purporting to benefit "The general Australian public" which is run by The Trustee for The Minderoo Foundation Trust (service address swells@minderoo.com.au) with the following people at the helm:

Nicola Forrest BA Chief Executive Officer
Grace Forrest BA Director
Herbert Elliott AC MBE Director
Tony Grist BCOM, FINSIA, AICD Director
The Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC (millionaire former Governor of Western Australia)
Tonya McCusker Alternate Director
Allan Myers AO QC Director

In 2016 financial year it declared Total Comprehensive Income of $15.353 million and spent a total of $19,356,519 on projects and partnerships with Arts, Culture & Community, Forrest Research Foundation, GenerationOne, Thrive by Five and Walk Free.

Minderoo is Forrest's go to name when forming corporations and at last count he had at least fourteen active corporations and business names registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission which included that word. 

So why is this self-styled philanthropic organisation on Twitter indulging in the favourite far-right pastime of 'welfare bashing':

Creating Parity‏ @creatingparity  11:52 AM 4 May 2017
The CDC tackles the problem that current welfare policies are a systemic enabler of illicit drug use, alcohol abuse and free-range gambling.

@creatingparity also promotes www.cashlessdebitcard.org.au - a website created by the Minderoo Foundation as a propaganda vehicle for introduction of the cashless debit card.

So who is silvertail grazier and mining billionaire John Andrew Henry Forrest and why is he insisting that his grand plan to control the banking options and spending practices of literally millions of Australian citizens is one that the nation needs to have imposed on it by the federal government – and why is it this aim needs to be helped along by a privately funded, misleading advertising campaign?

Well, Wikipedia has a highly sanitized version of his life at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Forrest and the unauthorised biography Twiggy: The High-Stakes Life of Andrew Forrest apparently expands on his exploits – including allegedly using complex dealings with a charity he founded and controlled to reduce his tax liabilities.

However, the bottom line is that Non-Executive Chair of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd and principal shareholder Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest is an extremely rich, privately educated, professed Christian with pronounced paternalistic tendencies and a strong sense of entitlement, who apparently believes the poor and vulnerable are a class of moral degenerates incapable of functioning without lifelong, punitive governmental control.

And his bully boy mission in life is to make sure that control is imposed.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ceduna, South Australia and the Turnbull Government's cashless debit card trial


On 15 March and 26 April 2016 the Turnbull Government began a twelve month long trial of the Cashless Debit Card aka Healthy Welfare Card in Ceduna and surrounds, South Australia and the East Kimberly region in Western Australia.


More participants said the CDCT [Cashless Debit Card Trial] had made their lives worse than made it better (49% compared to 22%). Family members of trial participants gave a similar pattern of answers (37% and 27%).

The evaluation report also contained a wealth of unsupported anecdotal information bolstering implementation of the cashless debit card – a few instances of which read like pure fairy tales. None of which could be fact checked by readers of the interim report.

However, Turnbull Government claims in the media of reduced crime statistics due to introduction of the cashless debit card can at least be broadly checked.

This is an excerpt from the South Australian Police Annual Report June 2015- June 2016 covering the Eyre and Western Service Local Area which includes Ceduna:

From 2014-15 to 2015-16, Homicide and Related Offences decreased by -25% (18 offences), with Other Homicide and Related Offences decreasing by -39.6% (21 offences). Sexual Assault and Related Offences decreased by -7.2%(150 offences) overall. There were decreases in the three groups within the Sexual Assault and Related Offences subdivision, with Non Assaultive Sexual Offences decreasing by -14.1% (63 offences).

Robbery and Related Offences decreased by -12.9% (90 offences), with Aggravated Robbery Offences decreasing by -16.8% (84 offences).

Serious Criminal Trespass increased by 4.6% (600 offences) over the previous year. The main driver for this was Serious Criminal Trespass – Residence which increased by 5.8% (476 offences), where offenders are breaking into homes, flats, units and apartments. Serious Criminal Trespass – Non Residence increased by 2.6% (124 offences), where offenders are breaking into domestic sheds and garages.

Theft and Related Offences have increased by 8.4% (3383 offences) over the previous year. The main drivers are Theft from Shop which increased by 16.7% (1118 offences) and Other Theft which increased by 11.4% (2209 offences). Theft from Service/Petrol Station was one of the causes for the increase in the Other Theft category. Theft/Illegal use of Motor Vehicle has increased to 4.6% (149 offences). The 2015-16 result of 3364 stolen vehicles represents a decrease of -60.8% from a high of 8574 offences in 2006-07.

Fraud, Deception and Related Offences have seen an increase of 5.5% (152 offences). The main driver for this was Obtain Benefit by Deception which increased by 4.6% (105 offences).

Property Damage and Environmental has seen a slight increase of 10 offences. Environmental relates to the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition, also relating to or arising from a person’s surroundings e.g. environmental noise. Property Damage by Fire or Explosion increased by 3.4% (59 offences). Graffiti offences decreased by -12.4% (315 offences).

Illicit Drug Offences have increased by 24.2% (768 offences). One of the main drivers is the 72.8% (437 offences) increase in Possess/Use Drugs. Other Drug Offences refers to the possession, use, sale or furnishing of any drug or intoxicating substance or drug paraphernalia, that is prohibited by law. This group has seen an increase of 51.1% (324 offences). Weapons/explosives Offences have increased by 12.0% (329 offences). The main driver of this increase is Prohibited weapons/explosives of 23.4% (150 offences). Justice Procedure Offences have increased 15.3% (2367 offences). This category includes Breach of bail which increased by 17.6% (1486 offences) and Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders which has increased by 17.8% (629 offences). This is largely due to an increased emphasis on encouraging and supporting reporting of those offences associated with family and domestic violence.

Other Theft GENS have increased by 63.2% (2199 offences). This is due to the Public Transport Safety Branch focusing on high visibility policing and passenger safety throughout the metropolitan public transport system.

Total General Expiations have increased by 9.8% (2867 offences). One of the main drivers is the 28.9% (1615) increase in Drug Diversions with police emphasising the educational aspect of engaging with adult offenders using diversionary options.

South Australian State monthly crime statistics from March 2016 to February 2017 and Eyre and Western Service Local Area monthly crime statistics for the same period also do not appear to support the lower incidence of crime claims by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Social Services Minister Christian Porter.

Uniting Communities, formerly UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide and the Adelaide Central Mission, observed on 14 March 2017:

The Report states a decrease in overall crime in the Ceduna trial site. However, the statistics for a range of crimes, as provided by SAPOL for the Eyre Western LSA over the past 12 months when compared to the previous year, indicate an increase in offences against property and against the person. Most notably, there was a 111% increase in robbery and related offences, and a 400% increase in non-aggravated robbery.

Schrapel says, ‘It’s alarming to note that the Minister for Human Services has indicated in an interview today with ABC News that the crime figures in the Report were “preliminary and not conclusive” and yet this very same crime data has been used to validate the extension of the Cashless Card. Surely we need a more rigorous assessment of such evidence before it is used to justify a major policy announcement’.

Because DSS frequently relied on broader SLA statistics perhaps local media can be useful in fleshing the situation on the ground out a little more.

Ceduna Local Government Area has an estimated resident population of 3,716 people and The West Coast Sentinel  covers local news in the region.

Here are some of the crime reports in this newspaper during the cashless debit card trial period as of 22 April 2017:

18 April 2017:
Two Ceduna businesses were broken into early last Thursday morning. Items were stolen from Spry's Newsagency and Mitre 10, while the Ceduna Sailing Club was also damaged. Police are investigating the incidents, with electrical items and cigarettes stolen from the newsagency. Eleven mobile phones, including Samsung, ZTE and HTC brands and a Telstra Essentials black tablet were stolen along with a number of packets of ciagrettes.

3 April 2017:
A man was arrested after being caught drink driving at Koonibba on Sunday morning. Police stopped the vehicle just after 1am and requested the driver submit to a breath test.
He was directed to attend the Ceduna Police Station for further testing but became agitated and attempted to walk away.
He was arrested for refusing to obey reasonable police direction, driving under the influence with an alleged reading of 0.162 and resisting police. He was issued a 12-month loss of licence.

30 March 2017:
Four drink drivers were caught at Ceduna and Streaky Bay late last week including a driver detected during a school drop-off.

2 March 2017:
Police stopped the car and found three women and three children aged 9, 8 and 4 all not wearing seatbelts.
The 32-year-old driver was breath tested and returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.120 per cent.
Further checks revealed she only held a learner's permit.
The Ceduna woman was reported for a number of traffic offences including drink driving, breaching learner's permit conditions, failing to ensure passengers were wearing seatbelts and driving with unrestrained children in the car.
The car was also defected and impounded for 28 days and the woman was issued with a six-month instant loss of licence.
The adult passengers were also fined with failing to wear a seatbelt.

2 February 2017:
A MAN had his licence suspended for a year after he was caught drink driving in Ceduna last Thursday.
Police stopped a Ford station wagon on Denial Bay Road at about 4.30pm and breath tested the male driver who returned a positive reading of 0.165 per cent.

Just before 8pm, police stopped the woman as she was driving a Holden sedan along Poynton Street for a mobile screening test.
The 31-year-old Ceduna woman provided a positive preliminary breath test and later returned a breath test result of 0.134 per cent.
She lost her licence for six months and will be summoned to appear in court at a later date.

12 January 2017:
TWO youths were arrested following a police pursuit with a stolen van at Ceduna last week.

8 December 2016:
POLICE reported a man for speeding and drink driving in Ceduna last Thursday.
Police were conducting speed detection duties along the Eyre Highway west of Ceduna when they detected a car travelling at 124 kilometres an hour in a 110km/h speed zone.
Police breath tested the driver who allegedly produced a blood alcohol reading of 0.114 per cent.
The 46-year-old was issued with a six-month instant loss of licence and had his car impounded.

27 October 2016:
A WEST Coast man was arrested following a domestic disturbance in Ceduna last Tuesday night.
Police were called to Goode Road following reports that a woman had been stabbed. She was found adjacent to the Eyre Highway with a stab wound to the leg and taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in a serious condition.
A 54-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm. He was refused police bail and appeared at Ceduna Magistrates' Court the following day.

28 August 2016:
A DRIVER was reported for traffic offences after rolling his car near Penong on Saturday… It seems the driver had taken evasive action to avoid an echidna that was crossing the road.
The 59-year-old Yalata man was reported for drink driving and failing to immediately report the crash to police. He recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.261 - more than five times the legal limit.

10 July 2016:
POLICE have arrested a woman following a domestic disturbance near Ceduna on Friday night.
Police were called to a house west of Ceduna just after 11pm, July 8, following reports that a man had been stabbed.
When patrols arrived, they located a 25-year-old man with stab wounds to his leg. He was taken to the Ceduna Hospital in a serious condition and will be airlifted to the Flinders Medical Centre on Saturday morning.
A woman was arrested at the scene and was also treated for minor injuries at the hospital.
Police advise that both parties were known to each other and this was not a random incident.                                                                                                                                                                                          
16 May 2016:
A 27-year-old man was arrested after leaving his ID at the scene of a break-in at Ceduna on Saturday, May 14.
Just after 5am, neighbours of an elderly resident in Collins Street, Ceduna, woke to the sound of smashing glass.
The neighbours, including an off-duty police officer, investigated the scene and startled the two offenders, who ran off.
One of the suspects left his bank card at the scene and was subsequently arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated serious criminal trespass, two counts of illegal interference, property damage and theft.
It will also be alleged the 27-year-old Koonibba man stole a number of items from a shed.

21 March 2016:
THREE Ceduna men were taken into police custody and were charged with aggravated counts of robbery and serious criminal trespass after cars were stolen and a service station broken into last Wednesday night.
At about 8.45pm, a Ceduna man was allegedly assaulted by three men and had his Holden sedan stolen. Police will allege the trio then drove to Streaky Bay and broke into a service station before continuing to Port Kenny. Once there it is alleged they stole another vehicle which was later located by police near Streaky Bay. The three men were found walking along the highway the following morning and were arrested by Ceduna detectives. They were charged with aggravated robbery, serious criminal trespass and illegal use, and appeared at the Ceduna Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

To an outsider looking in it doesn’t seem like much has changed for the better in relation to criminal activity since Indue's cashless debit card has been in use.

Perhaps ministers Tudge and Porter might like to comment further?

UPDATE


Indue is owned by mutual lenders such as credit unions. It issues payment cards, including pre-paid cards for the likes of Coles and on behalf of the federal government to welfare recipients…….
Indue had $27.4 million in total (tier I and tier II) capital as of June 2015.
It only uses the licence to take deposits on its pre-paid cards for corporations and government clients such as the Department of Human Services.
Mr Garcia has won a government contract to issue cards to welfare recipients in the Northern Territory and Western Australia that limits what they can buy to essential goods, and hopes it will be rolled out nationally.
This could significantly boost profits on its own but it would still need additional capital, he said.
The company made a $3.5 million profit in 2015 on revenue of almost $70 million. It paid its owners a dividend of $12 a share.

The following is information based on the ASIC Current & Historical Company Extract for Indue Ltd, ACN 087 822 464, 3, May 2017.

Indue Ltd is an unlisted public company formerly known as: Credit Union Settlement Services Ltd from 01/12/1992 to 27/03/2001 and Creditlink Services Ltd from 28/03/2001 to 30/11/2005.

Registered address: Level 3, 601 Coronation Drive, Toowong QLD 4066
Appointed Auditor: KPMG

Share Structure: 111,431 fully paid A CLASS VOTING SHARES with total worth declared as $15,521,960 and 14,751 fully paid B CLASS NON VOTING SHARES with total worth declared as $1,743,100. Shareholding not broken down by named shareholders.

Current company directors recorded by ASIC:

PETER TOWNSEND,13 Korogora Street, CRESCENT HEAD NSW 2440
SCOTT RODNEY KING, 116 Bathurst Street, PITT TOWN NSW 2756
ROBERT DAWSON PETIE, 11 Pring Street, TARRAGINDI QLD 4121
AILEEN ELIZABETH CULL, 27 Arabian Place, BLACK RIVER QLD 4818
FRANK GULLONE, 8 Bernarra Court, DONVALE VIC 3111
GEORGE FINLAY BELL, Unit 26, 9 Jardine Street, KINGSTON ACT 2604
STEPHEN ROBERT CAPELLO, 8 Valonia Avenue, SURREY HILLS VIC 3127
SALLY CLARE COLLIER, 325 Whale Beach Road, PALM BEACH NSW 2108