Showing posts with label class warfare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label class warfare. Show all posts

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:


Dr Alex Wodak

President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation


[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

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

So you think it's OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP ?

So you think it’s OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP and return them to the federal parliament next year?

That all people on Centrelink income support need to do is pull up their socks and get on with it because many of those Coalition MPs have told their electorates that ‘the best welfare is a job’?

Perhaps it is time to pause and think about the possible relationship between states with low employment opportunities as well as high unemployment levels and states with high working-age suicide rates – and then consider the effect of those punitive welfare policies that first the Abbott and then the Turnbull governments have created or expanded.

Starting with this policy debacle......

ABC News, 15 July 2017:

Fines imposed on welfare recipients in a controversial work-for-the-dole scheme have soared to 300,000 in under two years, prompting renewed claims of poverty and hunger in Aboriginal communities.

Jobless people in remote Australia must work up to three times longer than other unemployed people to receive benefits.

The overwhelming majority of participants in the Community Development Programme (CDP) are Aboriginal.

The latest figures reveal about 54,000 financial penalties were slapped on participants in January, February and March alone for missing activities or being late.

"It's extraordinary," Australian National University researcher Lisa Fowkes said.

"Those 35,000 people have incurred more penalties than all of the 750,000 other Australians in the social security system.

"There is something really seriously wrong with the program, and that's showing up in these figures."

Unemployed people under the CDP must work 25 hours a week to receive welfare payments.

NSW - est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Victoria - est.7 job seekers for every job vacancy
Queensland - est. 8 job seekers for every job vacancy
South Australia – est. 16 job seekers for every job vacancy
Western Australia – est. 10 job seekers for every job vacancy
Tasmania – est. 14 job seekers for every job vacancy
Northern Territory – est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Australian Capital Territory – est. 3 job seekers for every job vacancy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a total of 2,540 people of workforce age took their own lives in 2015.

The all ages state suicide rates in that year were:

NSW 10.6
Vic     10.8
Qld     15.7
SA      13.4
WA     15.0
Tas     16.3
NT      21.0
ACT    11.6

In 2016 the Australian Youth Development Index reported the state 15-29 year-old suicide rates for 2015 were:

NSW 10.3
Vic     9.7
Qld    12.4
SA     11.6
Tas    13.4
NT     11.2
ACT   9.7

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2015: 

Intentional Self-Harm In Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
This section focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths for which the usual residence of the deceased was in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. .....

In 2015, 152 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons died as a result of suicide. The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 25.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 12.5 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons. Suicide deaths also accounted for a greater proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.2%) compared with deaths of non-Indigenous Australians (1.8%). 

In the five years from 2011 to 2015, intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 15 and 34 years of age, and was the second leading cause for those 35-44 years of age. The median age at death for suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons over this period was 28.4 years, compared with 45.1 years in the non-Indigenous population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females had a lower median age at death than males (26.9 years for females compared with 29.0 years for males). 

Australia's population pyramid is not so balanced that it can afford to lose its teenagers and young adults to an early death from despair.

So why are we tolerating a federal govenment which does its best to grind down some of the most vulnerable amongst them - those who cannot easily find paid employment.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Can't live on the wage you bring home but can't get a raise from the boss? Here's the reasons why

In 2016 an est. 3.89 million people living in New South Wales had a personal weekly income of between $0 and $644 per week, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In Tasmania an est. 1.03 million people had way less than $573 per week.

Between March Quarter 2016 and March Quarter 2017 wages growth remained at record lows.

So this should come as no surprise……

Industrial relations lawyer Josh Bornstein writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2017:

When Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe recently declared a "wages crisis" following a prolonged period of low wages growth, it appears to have caught the federal government on the hop. Quick to respond to crises about border protection, terrorism and rising energy prices, this is one crisis that renders the government mute. There is no plan, no working group, or commissioning of a white paper from the Productivity Commission. Instead, the government has announced a plan to pay up to 10,000 "interns" to work in the retail industry for as little as $4 an hour. This plan will only exacerbate the wages crisis.

Phillip Lowe is not the first prominent mandarin to observe that stagnant wages threaten economic growth. A new consensus has emerged since the Global Financial Crisis that anaemic wages growth and increased income inequality is retarding economies and stoking political volatility in developed economies. Nevertheless, Lowe is the first in Australia to join the chorus. His suggested remedy – that employees need to speak up more to request higher pay – is strikingly naive, inviting the obvious question. What if the boss says "no"?

Lowe's counterpart at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, has offered a more sophisticated analysis of the wages crisis, focused on the transformation of the labour market. Haldane recently observed that profound changes in workplaces had produced a period of "divide and conquer" that left workers less able to bargain for higher wages. "There is power in numbers. A workforce that is more easily divided than in the past may find itself more easily conquered. In other words, a world of divisible work may reduce workers' wage-bargaining power," he said.

The collapse in bargaining power for workers that Haldane has observed is reflected in the plight of Australian trade unions, which are languishing at their weakest point in their history. Only 14.5 per cent of employees belong to a trade union. In the private sector, that number sits at a shocking 10 per cent and falling. The tipping point passed long ago. Australian trade unions are fighting for their survival. That wage growth and employee share of GDP has hit record lows is no coincidence…..

The explanation for the severity of the collapse of unionisation is far more prosaic. It's our laws. Unions have been seriously weakened by 30 years of constant political and legislative attacks. The last conservative prime minister not to establish a royal commission into trade unions was Billy McMahon (1971-1972). For decades, business lobby groups have permanently and successfully campaigned for legislative change that weakens unions.

In this era, workplace laws have been changed in two key ways. First, the laws have been deregulated to encourage employers to cut wages and de-unionise their workplaces. At the same time, unions have been subjected to complex regulation that restricts their ability to access workplaces, recruit members and to bargain for better wages and conditions. The laws have allowed employers unprecedented ability to cut labour costs, outmanoeuvre employees and their unions while at the same time inveigling unions into a kind of regulatory quicksand…..

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Yet another Liberal-Nationals publicly funded program ripe for rorting by the private sector

Remember the pile on to hoover money from the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive program administered by the Tax Office and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science or the debacle which is the Vocational Education and Training program?

Well now the Turnbull Government has decided this is great idea. What could possibly go wrong?

HuffPost, 3 April 2017:

CANBERRA – A voluntary internship program, designed to get young people eventually into work, has just been kicked off by the Turnbull Government despite widespread concern about its efficacy and potential for youth exploitation.

Under the Youth Jobs PaTH Program, an unemployed or disadvantage young person under 25 years will be paid an extra $200 a fortnight "incentive" on top of the usual income support payments to complete an internship of between four to 12 weeks….

Businesses partaking in the program will receive an upfront bonus of $1,000 for taking on an intern and get an additional $6,500 if the internship turns into a job.

The Guardian, 3 April 2017:

The Turnbull government launched its Prepare, Train and Hire (PaTH) internship program on Monday despite the legislation for its full implementation being stuck in the Senate.

Implementing the internships without legislation could cost workers up to $42 a fortnight, because the $200 a fortnight they receive for taking on work placements will count as income that reduces their other social security payments.

HuffPost, 3 July 2017:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull trumpeted a breakthrough for his government's controversial PaTH internship program on Monday, as he unveiled a plan for 10,000 retail interns, but the businesses onboard with the plan have come under fire over previous penalties for mistreating and underpaying workers.

The PaTH plan -- Prepare, Trial, Hire -- was announced in the 2016 budget, designed as a way to get young unemployed people into job training and work experience programs, with a view to getting them off welfare and into paid employment. The job skills training is compulsory, but participating in an internship is voluntary, and completing up to 25 hours a week gives "interns" an extra $200 on top of their existing welfare payments. Businesses that take on interns would also receive thousands in financial incentives.

Unions and workers groups slammed the idea, claiming it would lead to "churn" culture where businesses would stop employing casual or part-time employees who the business itself has to pay, and instead sign up to receive a revolving door of interns who the business not only does not pay, but actually gets paid to take on.

On Monday, Turnbull joined employment minister Michaelia Cash to announce the Australian Retailers Association would "partner" with the government to offer up to 10,000 internships through the PaTH program. News Corp reported that retailers including Battery World, Coffee Club, Bright Eyes and Bakers Delight will participate in the program, but opponents have seized on the recent history of some of those businesses.

"The employers that have signed up to the Youth Path program don't have a good track record treating their workers with respect," said Labor's shadow employment minister Brendan O'Connor and shadow minister for employment services Ed Husic.

"Bakers Delight apprentices, and assistants were reimbursed almost $40,000 after the Fair Work Ombudsman found they were being underpaid. A former Coffee Club franchisee in Brisbane was fined more than $180,000 in penalties for contraventions including an unlawful cash back payment."

The Coffee Club decision was announced on the government's own Fair Work Ombudsman website just two weeks ago.

"The Turnbull Government can't explain how the Youth PaTh program won't displace jobs that could go to full-paid employees. The Government has not outlined how its agreement with retailers will stop subsidised workers from being used by some retailers to avoid paying penalty rates -- by engaging subsidised, so-called 'interns' in penalty shifts that would normally be staffed by employees," Husic and O'Connor said.

SBS News, 4 July 2017:

On Monday, Minister Cash sought to assure potential interns that they would have a decent chance of getting a job at the end of their placement…..

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the program offered no path to qualification, employment or workforce protection.

"This is a government-sanctioned program that actually borders on slavery," she told reporters in Melbourne.

"If this does create new jobs, then pay the kids for the jobs. Pay them a wage. They're going to be productive. They're going to be contributing to the bottom line of these businesses."

Monday, 26 June 2017

Can the CSIRO sink any lower?

“Collaborating with government. As a trusted adviser to government, our collaboration within the sector supports it to solve challenges, find efficiencies and innovate.” [CSIRO, Data61]

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is a federal government corporate entity ultimately responsible to the Australian Parliament.

It started life in the midst of global conflagration in 1916 and for most of its existence it was widely respected both in its country of origin and around the world.

Sadly that level of respect has been diminished in recent years as commercial imperatives saw it move away from its once proud boast that:

However, it had not yet become a low creature of right-wing political ideology.

Until now – when it appears willing to participate in enforcing punitive social policies, cynically presented in the guise of Budget measures by the Turnbull Coalition Government.

In particular, enabling the trial drug testing of income support applicants “based on a data-driven profiling tool developed for the trial to identify relevant characteristics that indicate a higher risk of substance abuse issues” which almost inevitably will target the poor and vulnerable.

Apparently the only matter holding the CSIRO back from full commitment to the trial is the matter of contract negotiations with the Dept. Of Social Security and/or Dept. of Human Services1.

The cost of this measure has reportedly been deemed by government to be “commercial-in-confidence”.

InnovationAus, 2 June 2017:

CSIRO has still not officially agreed to allow its Data61 analytics unit to become involved in the government’s highly contentious welfare drug testing program, a Senate estimates hearing has been told.

But the delay appears to be related to difficult contract negotiations – for which the research agency is well known – rather than the objections of staff or management to becoming involved in such a politically-driven program.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and CSIRO appeared at the Senate estimates on Thursday morning.

The shocking concession that CSIRO has been in discussion to work on the drug-test project since April comes despite the organisation having specifically declined to confirm any knowledge of the project for weeks – let alone that it was actively negotiating a contract.

This is despite direct questions being put to CSIRO on multiple occasions for weeks.

The estimates hearing also revealed that Data61 has been called into the controversy plagued Social Services robo-debt project that has mistakenly matched debt to welfare recipients.

CSIRO digital executive director David Williams told shadow industry minister Kim Carr that while CSIRO was approached by the Social Services department about the welfare drug testing scheme in late April – less than a month before its involvement was prematurely announced by Cabinet Minister Christian Porter – it is still yet to officially sign on to the project.

“The Department of Social Services approached CSIRO in early April, wanting to implement a trial involving activity tested income support recipients across a small number of geographical areas,” Mr Williams told senate estimates.

“They asked for Data61’s support in doing the analysis to see whether predictive analytics could help them in that task.”

“Since that time we’ve been talking with the department, and scoped out a statement of work and we’ve looked at how we can implement that work should we sign a contract and proceed. At this moment we’re working through the procedures inside CSIRO.”


1. The CSIRO already has a business relationship with the Australian Department of Human Services (DHS). Commencing in February 2017 the CSIRO and/or CSIRO Data61 conducted a Review of Online Compliance Systems, as well as supplying Specialist Data Science Services and Selection Methodologies Advice to the department. See;

Friday, 23 June 2017

About those rules for joining the Liberal-Nationals' cosy little citizenship club.......

This bill raises the bar on applications for citizenship and increases the power of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, over the citizenship process - including granting him the power to override Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions on citizenship applications.

One of the components of this bill is the introduction of an English language test, which means that with few exceptions applicants between 16 and 60 years of age will need to demonstrate competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test.

Applicants will be required to undertake a separate upfront English language test with an accredited provider and achieve a minimum level of ‘competent’.

According to the Immigration Minister the minimum level of competency is the IELTS General Training language test at  “Level 6 of the General stream focuses on "basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts".

This particular test has three components – listening, reading and writing - and takes the better part of three hours to complete.

An example of the type of questions contained in the General Training reading test can be found here.

There is a strong likelihood that between est. 7-16 million Australians (including those born in Australia of Australian parents) would fail this test if they were required to take it today.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded the results of direct measurement of three critical information-processing skills: literacy; numeracy; and problem solving in technology-rich environments and the 16.3 million people whose skills were measured included those not in the workforce, those in employment and those without a job.

In 2016 ABS recorded:

By 2011-12 ABS was stating:

In the 2011-12 round of testing 43% of participants born in Australia and 51% of participants born outside of Australia had English literacy levels below Level 3.

The chances of the majority of these people, regardless of whether they are citizens or residents with visas, being able to pass Peter Dutton’s new English language test is slim to say the least.

According to Catherine Elder, a world-leading expert at Melbourne University and president of the International Language Testing Association; "A level six on both tests requires you to be highly literate and to be able to do things like write an essay. It would take a great deal of time and be beyond the reach of many people who come to Australia."

The fact of the matter is that in 2011-12 it was people who had attained a higher education qualification (Bachelor degree and above) who were more likely than others to have achieved a score at Level 3 or above in literacy and numeracy, and Level 2 or above in problem solving in technology-rich environments.

So according to the new citizenship rules being supported by millionaire parliamentarians Malcolm Bligh Turnbull and Peter Craig Dutton, it would appear that only those that managed to acquire a decent education need apply to join the Liberal-Nationals’ cosy little citizenship club.1

1. In 1788 when the forbears of many individuals and families - which are both grand and humble members of  Australian society of today - first stumbled off those early British convict ships onto shore the vast majority of them would have been illiterate. On the basis of poor literacy levels and criminal records Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's many convict forbears wouldn't be allowed to become permanent residents much less citizens today under the new rules.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Sick and tired of the silvertail Turnbull Government and its mouthpiece Alan Tudge demonising the unemployed in a tight jobs market?

This was 9 News on 13 June 2017, at the obvious urging of Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, indulging in a round of naming and shaming in "Australia's ten worst dole bludging towns and suburbs revealed":


1. Caboolture, Queensland -
11.4% unemployment March 2017
2. Blacktown, New South Wales -  
east 5.9%, south 6.5% & north 7.3% unemployment March 2017
3. Mildura, Victoria -
7.5% unemployment March 2017
4. Frankston, Victoria - 8.9%, north 11.5% & south 2.7% unemployment March 2017
5. Deception Bay, Queensland -  8.8% unemployment March 2017
6. Werribee, Victoria -
12.2% & south 8.5% unemployment March 2017

7. St Albans, Victoria -  north 16.3% & south 16.3%
8. Dubbo, New South Wales -  south 3.0%, east 3.5% & west 4.8% unemployment March 2017
9. Auburn, New South Wales -
9.5% unemployment March 2017

10. Dandenong, Victoria - 18.5% & north 10.8%

The red annotations are official unemployment rates for these named and shamed locations in the March Quarter 2017, as released by the Australian Dept. of Employment.

If 9 News had resisted the easy path of merely repeating the minister’s dog whistle, it might have given some thought to what these unemployment rates might represent at the coal face.

Is it any wonder then that those with low or no skills receiving unemployment benefits become discouraged over time with repeated rejection and begin to allegedly “miss job interviews and don’t turn up to work-for-the-dole appointments”.

If you want to complain to Human Services Minister Alan Tudge about his cynical dog whistling 'phone (02) 6277.7200 Canberra Office (03) 9887.3890 Electorate Office or email online here.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

How much longer is the Turnbull Government going to keep playing these silly, divisive blame games?

This was the Minister for Human Services and Liberal MP for Ashton, Hon. Alan Edward Tudge, speaking to $300-a-head luncheon guests on 26 May 2017 as they dined on slow-braised osso bucco and blueberry fruit tart washed down with wine courtesy of their host, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) and Multinational sponsor Serco:
“welfare has become a destination, not a safety net”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, four weeks earlier, in April 2017, 728,500 people were unemployed and looking for work across the nation.
Of these 508,200 were looking for full-time work and 220,300 were looking for part-time work.
Half of all these people will be off unemployment benefits in 4 months or less and only 18.33% of the total number had been unemployed for 12 months or more.
That’s not a bad achievement in a marketplace where the ratio of unemployed people to job vacancies stands at roughly four to one.
Somehow this doesn’t look as though Australians think of living on Centrelink unemployment benefits as a desirable destination rather than as a short-term, below the poverty line safety net.
Which begs the question – just how stupid does Alan Tudge think voters are that he continually spouts such nonsense and expects to be believed.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Has the Republican Party finally pushed the American people too far?


Screenshot from CNN Politics video
iOTW Report, 14 May 2017:

A man got physical with Republican North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer at a town hall meeting Thursday before being escorted out by police.
The man was yelling at Rep. Cramer, "Will the rich benefit from, if the health care is destroyed, do the rich get a tax break? Yes or no?" He then shoved cash into the congressman's collar, saying, "There you go, take it."
Cramer responded, "That's too far," and police escorted the man from the meeting.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

What on earth has Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison been inhaling?

Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison displaying his disconnect from reality…..

The Guardian, 11 May 2017:

Scott Morrison’s plan to test wastewater to identify welfare recipients on drugs will only highlight the high levels of drug use among professionals working in “the finer leafy suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney”, an expert on the Victorian government’s ice action taskforce, John Ryan, has said.

Ryan, who is also chief executive of the not-for-profit drug research organisation the Penington Institute, also accused the treasurer of implementing “a new regime of big brother”.

Ryan was responding to Morrison’s comments during an interview with BuzzFeed on Thursday morning that areas of high drug use were “the best place to start” trials of drug testing for 5,000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients. Those welfare recipients with positive drug test results will be forced on to cashless welfare cards restricting cash withdrawals and barring the purchase of certain products.

Sewage testing of chemical compounds in raw wastewater is used by scientists and researchers to estimate the consumption and prevalence of drug use in cities and towns. This chemical analysis can also point to a population’s health and lifestyle habits, and can indicate changing drug trends over time of the population connected to the sewer system.

But Ryan said what the testing could not accurately pinpoint was how many people were using.

“It is not laser accurate when it comes to how many people are using as there are too many assumptions in the model,” Ryan said.

“It is not yet developed to the stage where you can identify a high number of users in a community. You can more likely predict how many standard doses of a drug have been taken, which is very different to how many people and which people are using. Some drug users might use once every four hours, some might use once every four months.”

He said a high number of working professionals used drugs.

“It might misfire if the government think they can rely on some chemical test of wastewater as we know drug use is expensive and more common drugs such as cannabis are consumed by people in the workforce,” he said.

“Using the wastewater approach, they will find high amounts in the wastewater of the finer leafy suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney.

The Penington Institute has warned the government that targeting welfare recipients with drug testing will see an increase in crime and homelessness among Australia’s most vulnerable people.

People on welfare who were using drugs had complex mental health needs and to risk their welfare because they were using drugs of dependence was not an appropriate response, Ryan said.

“We don’t need wastewater analysis to identify what everyone in the drug treatment sector knows,” Ryan said.
“The treasurer could talk to doctors, he could look at drug and mental health treatment waiting lists, it shouldn’t be hard to identify where people are desperate and in need.”

Then there is this exercise in cuckoo land thinking…….

Dept. of Social Security, Welfare Reform 2017 Budget, 10 May 2017:

Job seekers aged 55-59 years

Currently, recipients are excused from worksearch if they satisfy their requirements through volunteering. From 20 September 2018, recipients will only be able to meet half (15 hours) of their annual activity requirement of 30 hours per fortnight through volunteering— flexibility will exist for some recipients in areas of high unemployment.

Job seekers aged 60 years to Age Pension age

Currently, recipients over 60 currently have no annual activity requirements. From 20 September 2018, recipients will have 10 hours of annual activity requirements per fortnight which they will be able to meet through volunteering.

In the Clarence Valley on the NSW Far North Coast (ABS June 2016 est. population 51,211) at least an est. 40 per cent of the total population is 50 years of age and over – with est. 8 per cent being between 55 years and 59 years of age and est. 15 per cent  being between 60 years old and retirement age.

In the small town (catchment est. 6,337 persons) where I live an est. 55 per cent of the local population is 50 years of age and older – with est. 7 per cent being between 55 years and 59 years of age and est. 18 per cent being between 60 years old and retirement age.

In 2017 the unemployment rate in the statistical region covering the Clarence Valley was the highest in the state and, the seniors unemployment rate ranges from est. 11 to 20 per cent in many valley towns.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2015 there were only 3,809 businesses recorded in the Clarence Valley and not all of these employed staff. There are few employment opportunities advertised and there appears to be no lack of existing volunteers to fill unpaid positions in the community.

When it comes to any national index of relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage the valley probably still ranks around 2 out of a possible 10, which is a good indication that many of the over 19,000 households - approx. 28 per cent of which are probably lone person households - will have insufficient resources to weather any reduction in existing household income. 

So with few paid employment or volunteer opportunities which would meet the mandatory 10 to 30 hours of mutual obligation activity a fortnight, limited ‘public’ transport to get to any of these scarce positions and so many people facing a fight to find the required hours every week or lose their Centrelink Jobseeker benefit in 2018 – a veritable social and economic train wreck is likely to occur here come September next year.

For that we will have every Liberal and Nationals federal senator and MP to thank, because not even Morrison would have been this heartless without encouragement from the ranks.

Scott Morrison, 9 May 2017, being congratulated by Coalition MPs

Friday, 12 May 2017

'Whistleblower network' confirms Cashless Debit Card trial currently sends welfare recipients' transaction histories to federal government agencies, including Dept. of Social Security

Voters have been raising many concerns on social media platforms about the Turnbull Government’s nation-wide Cashless Debit Card proposal.

Two questions frequently posed have been in relation to the fact that the Indue Ltd account created for each welfare recipient will not attract interest on any balance recorded and, the inevitability that federal government will keep a record of an individual’s purchasing history when using this card.

Other concerns have ranged from restricted purchasing options if vendor participation is low through to how rent from private landlords can be paid and the pitiful amount of cash in hand allowed under the Turnbull Government’s de facto privatisation of the Centrelink pension/benefit/allowance payments system.

A website dedicated to the idea of open and transparent government as a benchmark of genuine democracy went looking for some answers………..


I recently emailed a list of questions to Indue after reading their cashless welfare card Conditions of Use.


Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to you with questions based on the document at Why do you not pay interest on the funds kept on Indue cards? How was the list of restrictions you impose on card holders drawn up?

These restrictions include:

* refusal to pay interest on savings;

* preventing joint banking;

* refusing the ability to pay down other credit cards;

* refusing the ability to set up direct debits;

* refusing chargeback rights provided with normal bank card purchases;

* construction of merchant whitelist/exclusion list.

Who were the stakeholders in the decision making process to create the above list of punishments and where is the documentation to provide accountability to the public about how this list was developed?

Can you please list the datasets that you share with other organisations and the organisations that you share this data with?

Why do you collect information about taxi rides taken by people using your debit card? What information do you collect about journeys taken by card holders?

Why are Indue account holders required to provide you with ‘external account information’?

Is it the case that you supply card holder transaction history with the Commonwealth Government? (p64)
What is the name of the ‘overseas service provider’ that you share card holder information with? (p65) What data does the Indue DCT App collect? (p71)

thank you for your time Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)

Here is their reply. I have coloured text in red where I have concerns.
Dear Ms Williams
Thank you for your questions regarding the Cashless Debit Cards issued by Indue in connection with the Commonwealth Government’s Cashless Debit Card Trial.
Account Restrictions and Interest on Funds
The restrictions associated with the Cashless Debit Cards and Accounts including the decision to offer fee-free accounts and not to pay interest on the funds in accounts were decisions of the Commonwealth.  Any questions related to the decision making process surrounding the Cashless Debit Card Trial should be directed to the Department of Social Services at
Although the Department of Social Services is best placed to answer your questions regarding the restrictions, we take this opportunity to clarify the following with respect to the restrictions noted in your correspondence:
*  chargeback rights that exist for Visa debit cards issued by other financial institutions also apply to the Cashless Debit Cards.  Indue encourages anyone who believes that an  
    incorrect or unauthorised transaction has occurred through the use of their Cashless Debit Card to contact Indue’s Customer Service Centre on 1800 710 265;
*  cardholders are able to enter into direct debit arrangements with third parties by using their Visa Card number but not their BSB and Account Number; and
*  cardholders are able to transfer at least $200 per 28 days from their Cashless Debit Card account to a third party account which may be used to pay down any credit card debt.  If
   cardholders believe that the restrictions in place are causing them financial hardship by preventing them from paying off credit card debt, then Indue recommends they contact the Department of Social Services on 1800 252 604.
Indue only collects and discloses information for the purpose of providing services to cardholders and providing information to the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Cashless Debit Card Trial.  The information that Indue shares in the course of providing the services includes details such as a cardholder’s name, date of birth and address as well as transactional information, including the amount of a transaction, where a transaction was undertaken and who the payment was made to or received from.  It is essential to provide these details to payment scheme providers so that transactions can be made. In addition to the Commonwealth, in the course of providing the services to cardholders Indue may provide information to:
*  service providers who Indue operate the accounts (such as the card manufacturer and Indue’s payment switch);
*  payment scheme providers (such as Visa, BPAY and APCA);
*  regulatory bodies, government agencies, law enforcement bodies and courts;
*  other participants in the financial systems (such as other financial institutions for the purpose of resolving disputes, errors or issues in relation to Accounts); and
*  other parties as is authorised or required by law.              
Information regarding taxi journeys may be collected to ensure merchants cannot circumvent welfare restrictions. 
External account information
There is no obligation on Indue account holders to provide Indue with their external account information.  In certain circumstances Indue may request this information from account holders or the Commonwealth so that Indue can facilitate a transfer from an Indue account to a cardholder’s external account.  For example, to return any residual funds to a Cashless Debit Card account holder upon the closure of their account.
Provision of transaction history to the Commonwealth
As set out in the Conditions of Use for the Cashless Debit Card (available on our website at, Indue shares information collected about cardholders with the Commonwealth.  This information may include the cardholder’s address, date of birth, contact details, transaction history and communications a cardholder has had with Indue about their account. This is necessary for the Commonwealth to operate aspects of the trial.
Indue DCT Application
Once the Indue DCT Application has been installed on a device and a card holder has logged into their account, Indue will collect device identification details including DeviceId, DeviceName, DeviceModel, DevicePlatform and DeviceVersion. These device details allow Indue to identify the type of device used by a card holder. These details are necessary for the Application to allow in-application notifications to card holders. 
Yours sincerely,
customer service centre
PO Box 523, Toowong QLD 4066
phone 1800 710 265