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

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Australian Human Rights Commission does not support expansion of the Cashless Debit Card Trial


Excerpts from Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs Senate Inquiry into Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017:

Human rights concerns
As a form of income management, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 raises a number of human rights concerns, specifically around the right to social security, the right to a private life and the right to equality and non-discrimination. [my yellow highlighting]
The Commission has previously reported its concerns about the cashless debit card (also known as the Healthy Welfare Card) in our submission to the Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015 and in the Social Justice and Native Title reports for 2015 and 2016. 2
The Commission has particularly been concerned about the effects of these income management measures in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whom we have previously identified to be a group that are disproportionately impacted by such measures.3 As at September 2016, 75% of trial participants in Ceduna and 82% of trial participants in the East Kimberley were Indigenous.4
Whilst the Explanatory Memorandum acknowledges that trials of the cashless debit card are already underway in areas with high Indigenous populations, it proposes that future sites will give priority to locations with lower proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.5
The Commission remains concerned that the measures will continue to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not just in the existing locations of the East Kimberley and Ceduna where Indigenous populations are high, but also in future locations.
This is the case because the measures proposed in the Bill target a section of the population who are receiving income support payments.
Hence, whilst the measures may not directly target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their practical effect will unduly impact upon them, as government pensions and allowances are a main source of income for approximately 46.9% of this group.6
There are therefore concerns about whether the measures are inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and guarantee Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples equality before the law.
The Commission considers that the measures are not proportionate to the benefits sought by the Bill because their purpose could be achieved through other, less restrictive means and emphasises what it considers to be the preferred features of a system of income management:
* an approach that enables participants to voluntarily opt-in, rather than an automatic quarantining model (which then relies upon individual applications for exemptions)
* an approach that utilises income management as a ‘last resort’, particularly for targeted risk areas such as child protection (that is supported by case management and support services), similar to the Family Responsibilities Commission model in Queensland
* measures that are applied for a defined period and in a manner proportionate to the context.7
The Commission does not accept the arguments in the Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights that the measures justifiably limit the right to social security, privacy and non-discrimination and equality in pursuit of the objectives of Part 3D of the Act.8
As non-voluntary measures, they are applied to all income support recipients of working age in the trial areas,9 including those who do not have any issues with drugs, alcohol or gambling.
For the reasons outlined above and in the Commission’s previous submissions, the Commission does not agree with the assessment that the Bill or existing cashless debit card measures are compatible with human rights standards.10……
It is difficult to attribute the reported positive effects to the current trials as distinct from other factors such as increased support services, and other policy interventions.15 This is further exacerbated by the self-reporting nature of the report’s findings, which the evaluation itself states should be interpreted with caution and are subject to desirability bias.16
However, it is important to consider that where people have experienced modest benefits as a result of income management, when compared to its stated objectives,17 that these need to be weighed against its significant drawbacks.
The Commission does not accept that it is appropriate to extend these measures to additional sites in order to “build on these positive findings, and offer an opportunity to continue to test the card’s effectiveness in different settings and on a larger scale”.18 There is limited evidence to demonstrate that previous income management efforts have been effective and this is confirmed by the findings from the Orima report.
The Commission is therefore of the view that these measures unjustifiably impinge on the rights of trial participants, for little substantive benefit…..
Conclusion
Human rights protections are inadequately addressed in the Bill, the Explanatory Memorandum and in the Statement of Compatibility. The Commission is particularly concerned about the non-voluntary nature of the measures, and the disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those income support recipients who do not have drug, alcohol or gambling concerns.  [my yellow highlighting]
The Commission is of the view that income management measures which are imposed and not community-driven lack efficacy.
The Commission is of the view that less intrusive measures aimed at changing behaviour rather than limiting access to and use of income will be more effective. It is for this reason that the Commission welcomes the investment of support services into these communities, but hopes that the appropriateness and level of engagement with such services improves.19
In light of these views, the Commission does not support the expansion of these measures as outlined in the Bill.
_______________________________________________________________________
2 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, 6 October 2015, At http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=14a9925c-245c-4a2e-9bfa-eeb6c843e505&subId=403485; Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, 88-97, At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/AHRC_SJNTR_2016.pdf; Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2015, 55-58, At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/SJRNTR2015.pdf.
3 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, 6 October 2015, 5.
4 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, 91-92. See also Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’ (Department of Social Services, 2017), 38, showing similar proportions as at June 2017.
5 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 4, 7. 
7 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission No 76 to Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act Bill 2009 and other Bills (10 February 2010), 26.
8 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 7-8.
9 Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 3.
10 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 8. 
16 Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 118.
17 Department of Social Services, Guide to Social Security Law [11.1.1.30] http://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law/11/1/1/30
18 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 3.
19 According to the Orima report, only 19% of those surveyed indicated that they used the drug and alcohol support services provided. Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 8. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

National Party President Larry Anthony is not happy and neither are a good many Australian voters



On 30 September 2017 Lawrence James "Larry" Anthony (pictured above) was not happy and here’s the reason why:


The Directors of The SAS Group note reports in Fairfax newspapers today which refer to our firm.  The SAS Group prides itself on achieving outstanding results for our clients.  That has been our track record since our inception almost a decade ago, and we make no apology for the fact that we give our clients the best advice and guidance to help them achieve their business goals.

At all times we operate in accordance with the Federal lobbying laws and code of conduct, and we will always do so. We note that the Fairfax journalist has made no allegation of impropriety, and was not able, when asked, to point to any breach of the relevant code.

We are unbothered by the baseless implications upon which the news story is founded.  However, we are deeply offended that our hard-working staff and consultants should have their achievements debased in this way.

The SAS Group has risen to be one of Australia’s leading strategic communications consultancies because our consultants have a breadth of experience in media, government and a range of industry sectors.  We value the outcomes achieved by our personnel, and we – and our clients – understand that the firm’s success is derived not from the standing of one director, but from the efforts of our entire team.

The media report in question can be found in The Sydney Morning Herald of the same day, Nationals Interest: Larry Anthony, the party president who runs a lobbying firm.

On 30 September 2017 thousands of voters across Australia were also not happy and here’s their reasons why:

The Catholic Leader, 27 September 2017:

THE plan to rollout cashless welfare cards to thousands of residents on the dole in Hervey Bay-Bundaberg has sparked a fierce backlash from opponents claiming the cards will cause social segregation, stigmatise job seekers and entrench poverty.

“The people of the Hinkler region (Hervey Bay-Bundaberg) are feeling threatened, scared and worried for their financial futures and inclusion in our communities,” Hervey Bay’s Kathryn Wilkes, who has launched an online petition opposing introduction of the Federal Government scheme early next year, said.

The scheme is based on a suggestion by Western Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, that 80 per cent of welfare payments be cashless and only available via an electronic debit card that cannot be used for alcohol or gambling.

“The insults that we cannot manage our funds, that we are all drunks, druggies and pedos are unjust and not true,” Ms Wilkes said.

“The cashless welfare debit card will completely destroy people on so many levels and we don’t have the mental health services to cope with the loss of self and autonomy.

“The card does not care what colour your skin is, your religion, or your circumstance; it is about profits for private business.”

The Guardian, 18 September 2017:

A new research paper has issued a damning assessment of the quality of the report the Turnbull government has been using to promote its cashless welfare card trials, saying the report shows the program is not working.

Janet Hunt, the deputy director of the centre for Aboriginal economic policy research at the Australian National University, says the government has ignored serious flaws in the Orima Research report, which it released this month.

She said the report showed the government’s cashless card trials had not actually improved safety and violence figures in the two trial sites in Ceduna and the East Kimberley, despite that being the point of the card.

Her findings support the work of social researcher Eva Cox, who has already found significant problems with the design of the report, including the way interviews were conducted in Indigenous communities and the ethics of the process.

“Indeed, the authors qualify a number of their apparently positive findings with various caveats, but, at the same time, the evaluation itself has serious flaws, so even these findings are contestable,” Hunt says in her report, The Cashless Debit Card Evaluation: Does it Really Prove Success?

ABC News, 14 September 2017:

A researcher studying the impact of the cashless welfare card has linked the Federal Government's welfare program to the issue of youth suicides in the Kimberley.

Coroner Ros Fogliani is examining the suicides of 13 children and young adults in the Kimberley, and is this week hearing testimony in the town of Kununurra.

Among those to give evidence was Melbourne University researcher Elise Klein, who is midway through a study on the effects of the implementation of the cashless welfare initiative in Ceduna and the west Kimberley.

All of the suicides being examined in the inquest took place before the cashless welfare card trial began in the East Kimberley in April 2016.

But Dr Klein argued the program would add to the disempowerment felt by Aboriginal people in the region.

"It has become a symbol of not having control over one's life and of state intervention over people's lives," she said.

Questioned on her findings so far, Dr Klein said local people and the community as a whole felt weakened by being subjected to the mandatory spending restrictions.

"Maybe the relevance to this inquest is that the kind of atmosphere that this feeds into is extremely disempowering for people.

Dr Klein was scathing of the implementation of the cashless card program, saying there was no proper consultation in Kununurra or Wyndham, and inadequate explanation as to how it worked.

"People were given a manual, that was full of technical language that was difficult to understand, so people had a lot of difficulty using the card," she said.

"When the trial began there was a fair amount of chaos.

"People were directed to a mobile app to check their balance, but some people didn't know how to use the internet, never mind have a mobile phone."

What connects all this unhappiness? Well it’s the SAS Consulting Group of which Larry Anthony is a founding director and part owner through Illalangi Pty Ltd as Trustee for the Anthony Family Trust and Indue Limited a financial services corporation established in 1999.

Anthony is listed as an owner, as well as a contact person for and employee of the SAS Consulting Group on the current NSW Register of Third-Party Lobbyists.

In my opinion this is a blatant work-around of the Australian Government Lobbying Code of Conduct at s8 & s10, because the NSW Lobbying of Government Officials (Lobbyists Code of Conduct) Regulation 2014 allows for more wriggle room.

From 17 February 2005 to 30 October 2013 Larry Anthony sat on the Indue board as a director and, for much of that period he was also Senior Vice President Australia of the National Party.

The Australian Government Register of Lobbyists shows that Indue Limited is one of the 19 clients on whose behalf SAS Consulting lobbies. Indue has been reportedly a client since mid-2014.

Indue Limited has the federal government contract to supply the cashless debit card and associated financial/banking services.

All welfare recipients, excepting age pensioners, have been placed on the cashless debit card in Ceduna SA, Kununurra and Wydham WA.

By January 2018 it is expected that all welfare recipients under 35 years of age who receive unemployment or single parent benefits and live in Goldfields WA or Hervey Bay Qld will also be placed on this income management scheme.

It is likely that within the next five years an est. 24,633 people on Centrelink income management as of 25 March 2016 will also be transferred onto the cashless debit card program.

Larry Anthony can expect to see more media articles in the future which make him uncomfortable, now his relationship with Indue Limited has begun to be scrutinised.

BRIEF BACKGROUND

SAS Consulting Group Pty Ltd talks up Larry Anthony:

Larry has had a distinguished career in both business and politics and is the current President of the National Party, one half of the ruling Coalition Government. 

He is the founding Director of the SAS Group and prior to his current commercial career was a former member of the Australian Parliament and served between 1996- 2004 in the Howard Government. During this period, he held numerous Ministries:  Children and Youth Affairs, Minister for Community Services and Parliamentary Secretary for Trade.  Larry also served on House of Representatives' Standing Committees on Financial Institutions; Public Administration; and Corporations and Securities. 

Larry was the longest serving Minister responsible for Centrelink with an annual budget of over $60 billion and is widely regarded for his achievements in social policy reforms.  In trade, he was responsible for driving export market development programs. 

Larry is the third-generation Anthony family member in the Australian Parliament - the only family in Australian history where each elected member served as Minister of the Crown and collectively served 56 years in the Australian Parliament.

Prior to entering Parliament, Larry was a stockbroker and investment banker with Potter Warburg and Merrill Lynch.

Larry is a professional company director with a keen interest in information technology, finance, media and human services sector.

As Minister for Community Services in 2000 Anthony introduced a Centrelink pilot data matching program which compared data held on welfare recipients with data held by the Australia Taxation Office and the Australian Investment & Securities Commission.

Larry Anthony held the seat of Richmond for the National Party for over eight years and lost it at the federal election on 9 October 2004.

Anthony became National President of the National Party in September 2015.

Larry Anthony's professional profile.

Indue Limited on North Coast Voices at http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com.au/search?q=indue

#cashlesswelfare on Twitter.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

More evidence that the far-right in politics and industry are determined to drive working class Australians into generational poverty?



Wage fraud, wage freezes, cuts to penalty rates and companies scrapping enterprise agreements will reduce the retirement savings of millions of workers by $100 billion by the time they retire, a report has found.

The report, the Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia's Superannuation System by the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, says the government will pick up more than one third of the cost, equivalent to $37 billion in lost taxes due to lower super contributions and higher age pension payouts.

It estimates that three million people, or one in four workers, have experienced some form of wage suppression, which will adversely impact their super payout.

The author of the report, Jim Stanford, describes wage suppression as an economic "time bomb". He says while individual families are grappling with the immediate impact of wage cuts, the long-term impact when they retire is yet to play out.

[THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAGE SUPPRESSION FOR SUPERANNUATION, p.9]

Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, Jim Stanford, Ph.D., The Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia’s Superannuation System, September 2017, excerpt from Summary:

Wages and salaries in Australia’s labour market are exhibiting their weakest growth in the history of the relevant statistics. Hourly wages are growing at less than 2 percent per year, and real wages (adjusted for consumer price inflation) are stagnant or falling. The unprecedented stagnation of wages reflects many factors, including chronic weakness in labour demand and the erosion of traditional wage-setting institutions (such as minimum wages and collective bargaining). But it also reflects, for millions of Australian workers, the aggressive efforts by employers (both private- and public- sector) to deliberately suppress wages below normal levels. These wage-suppression strategies take many forms: from the imposition of temporary wage freezes, to the unilateral termination of enterprise agreements, to the outright theft of wages through below-minimum payments. These pro-active measures to suppress labour incomes, breaking the normal link between labour incomes and labour productivity (which continues to grow at over 1 percent per year1), impose great harm on affected workers, their families, government budgets, and Australia’s macroeconomic performance.
There is another important consequence of these wage suppression strategies that is often not sufficiently understood by workers, employers, policy-makers and regulators: their flow-through impact on Australia’s retirement income system. When workers’ wages are unduly suppressed, then the normal flow of employer contributions into their superannuation accounts is also constrained. They will have smaller superannuation balances when they retire, and will consequently experience a lasting reduction in post-retirement incomes. Moreover, governments will share a significant portion of the resulting damage: they will collect less in taxes on superannuation contributions and investment income, and will pay out more in means-tested Age Pension benefits (since workers’ superannuation incomes will be smaller). These significant, lasting consequences from wage-suppression strategies should be documented and considered. They provide a powerful motive for all stakeholders to challenge employers’ wage-cutting initiatives. They also should be of direct concern to superannuation trustees and administrators – since the capacity of the superannuation capacity of the superannuation system to provide decent, secure retirement incomes for its members is being undermined by this growing pattern of wage suppression.
This report presents results from several quantitative simulations of the impact of wage suppression on superannuation entitlements of affected workers, their long-run retirement incomes, and corresponding fiscal effects on government. The report considers several specific scenarios, corresponding to different instances of pro-active wage suppression strategies that have been experienced by Australian workers in recent years. It traces through the impact of those policies on workers’ wages, superannuation accumulations, and retirement incomes. The simulations also describe the spill-over impacts on government (arising from reduced taxes collected on superannuation contributions and investment income, and increased Age Pension payouts). The simulations confirm that:
* Wage suppression undermines superannuation accumulations by automatically reducing employer contributions. Moreover, the damage is compounded over time due to the subsequent loss of investment income.
* Even temporary wage restraint measures (like temporary wage freezes) have lasting negative impacts on superannuation balances, by altering the trajectory of a worker’s wages for the rest of their career.
* The most dramatic instances of wage suppression – the termination of enterprise agreements by employers, and resulting large wage reductions as workers are placed back on minimum award conditions – can reduce the superannuation balance of a retiring worker by as much as $270,000.
* More modest wage suppressing policies (such as temporary nominal wage freezes, producing real wage reductions that are then sustained through a worker’s remaining years of service) reduce retirement superannuation balances by $30,000 or more.
* Government bears a share of the resulting losses, through both reduced tax collections before affected workers retire, and increased Age Pension payouts after they retire. In the worst-case scenarios, governments can experience fiscal losses of over $50,000 per worker (in real 2017 dollar terms).
* Millions of Australians have been confronted with one or more of these forms of wage suppression from their employers, so the aggregate impacts across the economy are enormous. Based on plausible estimates of the number of workers confronted with each form of wage suppression, the aggregate loss of superannuation balances on retirement (if the pattern of wage suppression is maintained) could ultimately exceed $100 billion (in real 2017 dollars) by the time affected workers retire, and the aggregate fiscal cost to government could reach $37 billion (in real 2017 dollars)………..
1 A recent Department of Finance research paper on productivity trends confirms that labour productivity continues to grow at typical historical rates – advancing at an annual average rate of 1.8 percent over the last five years alone. See Simon Campbell and Harry Withers, “Australian Productivity Trends and the Effect of Structural Change, “ August 28 2017, http://treasury.gov.au/ PublicationsAndMedia/Publications/2017/ Australian-productivity-trends-and-the-effect-of-structuralchange

[THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAGE SUPPRESSION FOR SUPERANNUATION, p.10]

Monday, 2 October 2017

Centrelink sent out 19,980 incorrect debt notices in just eight months


Australian Parliament, PARLWORK, Question Details:

Question asked of the Minister for Human Services and Liberal MP for Aston Alan Tudge on 31 May 2017:

How many Centrelink clients who were notified of a debt or the likelihood of a debt with Centrelink through its Online Compliance Intervention system, have subsequently had their debt (a) reduced, and (b) cancelled completely.
Could he provide a breakdown of parts (1)(a) and (b) by (a) state and territory, and (b) postcode.

One hundred and three days later the Minister deigned to reply:

THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1(a), 1(b) and 2(a) The number of debts reduced to zero and reduced but not to zero in total, by State and Territories as at 31 March 2017:
State
Debt Reduced to Zero1
Debt Reduced but not Zero1, 2
ACT
                                100
                  169
NSW
                            2,234
              3,644
NT
                                  40
                    79
QLD
                            1,665
              2,718
SA
                                630
              1,142
TAS
                                247
                  397
VIC
                            1,894
              3,306
WA
                                646
              1,069
Total
                            7,456
            12,524
¹The month the change is reported is the month the reassessment or review of the debt was completed which may be different to the month the debt was raised.
2Debts can be reassessed multiple times. This is recorded each time as a reassessment in the appropriate month.

2(b) The breakdown by postcode is at Attachment A. To protect individuals’ privacy, cell sizes of less than five are represented as “<5”.

What it has taken the Turnbull Government so long to admit is that 37.31 per cent of the 19,980 incorrect debt notices sent out between 1 July 2016 and 31 March 2017 were manifestly false debts.

In the same period a further 62.68 per cent of the 19,980 incorrect debt notices had amounts owed reduced – sometimes to under $20.

What these figures do not reveal is the total number of people who received a debt notice over these eight months and the number who paid the original amount listed on the debt notice because they were afraid to challenge Centrelink even though they personally doubted that any money was owed.

Nor is there any indication of how many Centrelink clients were referred to aggressive private debt collectors by the department.

What is known was that 1,569,911 people were sent debt notices in the 2016 calendar year alone [Commonwealth Ombudsman—Department of Human Services: Centrelink’s automated debt raising and recovery system].

Of these 20 per cent were admitted by the Dept. of Social Services to be false debts and 80 per cent were recoded as debts against a Centrelink client resulting in $300 million repaid by welfare recipients over a six month period [Minister for Social Security and Liberal MP for Christian Porter, transcript, 4 January 2017].

A total of 216,000 debt notices were generated in the three months leading up to Christmas 2016 and 133,078 alleged debts were recovered.

The Turnbull Government expects to claw back a total of $4 billion from welfare recipients by 2021.

The number of suicides as a result of a Centrelink debt notice is also unknown to date, although at least one recorded death had Centrelink debt as a contributing factor.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Thousands of Queenslanders will have their Centrelink payments quarantined with a compulsory cashless welfare card in 2018



Thousands of Queenslanders will have their Centrelink payments quarantined when a compulsory cashless welfare card is brought in next year.

The Federal Government has announced the controversial card will be rolled out across the Wide Bay region, including Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

Under the scheme 80 per cent of a person's welfare income is quarantined on a debit-style card, which cannot be used on alcohol, gambling or to withdraw cash.

It will apply to people under the age of 35 who receive dole and parenting payments.

The Wide Bay region has an est. resident population of 144,098 people living across 4.5 million hectares, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The 2016 Census revealed that only 22 per cent of the population stated they had any formal further education after high school and 27.5 per cent stated that their gross weekly incomes were less than $650. Half of those 15 years of age and older had incomes below $500.

In July 2017 Wide Bay had an employment rate of 60.8 per cent, an overall unemployment rate of 8.7 per cent and a youth unemployment rate of 23.6 per cent, according to the Australian Government Labour Market Information Portal and the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office.

Last year in Queensland there were 6.1 unemployed people for every job vacancy.

The number of businesses operating in the Wide Bay region has been slowly declining for at least the last five years, with the largest industry clusters being agriculture, construction and retail. The last data published shows barely 21,451 businesses – many of which would be owner operated having no employees or only a small number of employees.

In the Wide Bay region this expansion of the Indue cashless debit card program will initially be imposed on est. 6,700 people in Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay has a population of 56,678 residents, with only 24.8 per cent of the population having any formal further education after high school and half of the population having personal incomes of less than $478 per week.

Families with children make up 48.4 per cent of all family groups and youth unemployment in Hervey Bay mirrors the broader Wide Bay region.

Eventually the cashless debit card program is expected to directly affect up to est. 20,478  individuals as it is rolled out across the region in 2018 and, the flow-on effect will touch their families and local businesses.

A media release by the Minister for Human Services and the Member for Hinkler stated as a principal reason for introducing the cashless debit card into the Hervey Bay community:

The consultations also revealed significant problems with alcohol, drugs and gambling, particularly among young families.  Many community sector leaders were concerned that money meant for children was not being spent on them. The card will ensure that money meant for children will not be spent on alcohol, gambling or drugs.

However, I’m not quite sure that 2016-17 crime statistics for the Qld Police District of Wide Bay-Burnett actually reflects this view.

As it is the Turnbull Government’s intention (sometimes openly stated) to force people off Centrelink’s books by controlling how welfare recipients spend their benefits, I think I can safely say that by the end of 2018 the Liberal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien may find that he was only a one-term wonder in federal parliament and the Nationals Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt may also find that two parliamentary terms is his limit.

"You can opt out of it [the card] by getting a job."
Minister  for Human Services and MP for Aston Alan Tudge
21 September 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

What exactly is the point of this Indue Limited cashless debit card, Prime Minster Turnbull?


Dept. of Social Security and Dept. of Veteran's Affairs data reveals that by June 2017 there were est. 10.1 million Australians receiving some form of federal government assistance which involved regular or periodic cash transfers into their bank accounts.

The Turnbull Government intends to control how est. 7.5 million of these people spend these transfers by placing the money in cashless debit card accounts and restricting the availability of actual cash to 20 per cent of  the transfer amount.

This income management scheme is being rolled out nationally under the guise of an unrestricted 'trial'.

However the justification for this scheme is beginning to crumble under closer scrutiny.

News.com.au, 14 September 2017:

WELFARE recipients spend less on alcohol as a portion of their income than all other Australians, new figures show.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics this week released its household expenditure statistics report, breaking down how Australians spend their money.

And it’s managed to crush a few stereotypes with the data.

The report shows that Aussies overall spend more than half of their average weekly spend on goods and services on basics, covering things like housing, food, energy, health care and transport.

Aussies spend an average $846 of the weekly household spend of $1,425 on these items and service.

Included in these basics are food and non-alcoholic beverages, but booze is counted separately, and the results make for some interesting reading.

Australians whose main source of income was from government pensions and allowances, were found to spend an average of $12.14 out of their $677.19 on alcoholic drinks, or 1.8 per cent.

Overall, Australian households on average were found to spend $31.95 of their $1425.03 weekly spend on alcohol — a total of 2.2 per cent.

Those whose main source of household income came from their employer, or their own business, were each found to spend 2.5 per cent of their weekly household spend on booze, and those whose income fitted into the “other” category indulged 2.5 per cent of their weekly budget.

The findings come amid a government push for a cashless welfare card that quarantines a large chunk of Centrelink payments and can’t be used to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling.

It seems Turnbull, Abbott and Co have just lost the excuse that welfare recipients as a group are heavy boozers.

Well, I hear you say; then it must be that they need their incomes managed because they all smoke like chimneys. Except tobacco sales have been falling for years and its’s not as easy to find a low-income or unemployed smoker of any age as it once was.

Or if they don’t have the first two ‘vices’, then it must be all those lottery tickets they purchase that show a need to control their finances. But the facts set out in Australian Gambling Statistics 32nd Edition (p.93) show that households in Australia might have spent as much as 0.002% of their disposable income each year on Lotto or the like. Hardly a national scandal.

But what about those ubiquitous poker machines? Well again according to Australian Gambling Statistics 32nd Edition (p.152) households really go overboard there - they actual spend per capita around 1.057% of their annual disposable income on this form of gambling and in the last 20 years on record this figure has never climbed higher than 1.808% annually. In dollar terms this means that welfare recipients are probably spending between $0 and $5 per week on electronic gambling.

So if most people receiving welfare payments don’t constantly have a drink in their hand and a fag on their lips while they look up the Lotto results and if they're not all hunched over poker machines on a daily basis – what exactly is the point of this universal cashless debit card?

Of course! It has to be because most of these 7.5 million welfare recipients are relatively poor - which is an obvious character defect requiring punishment coercive correction according to those financially comfortable right-wing politicians in Canberra and their fellow travellers.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Cashless Welfare Card: a denizen of Mount Olympus pontificates on the ignorant masses below


This was Dr Jeremy Sammut (left) from the Centre for Independent Studies giving his views on the ignorant underclass, Friday, 8 September 2017:

It’s a libertarian fantasy that the problem of welfare dependence can be addressed without using the power of the state to compel responsible personal behaviour.

State compulsion, for example, is essential to enforce mutual obligation requirements and force the unemployed to actively seek a job, instead of continuing to loaf on the dole.

My research on the nation’s child protection crisis has sharply revealed the social damage wreaked by unrestricted welfare and parental bad behaviour among an underclass of dysfunctional families.

I therefore have no problem with the idea that welfare recipients could be compelled to take better care of children by being forced to spend their benefits on food and other essentials, rather than on drink, drugs, and gambling.

This is how we should view the debate about the federal government’s plan to expand the trial of the ‘cashless welfare card’ — as a means of addressing the intergenerational transfer of dysfunction and dependence within families.

In philosophical terms, the cashless welfare card is an example of ‘small government conservatism‘: a socially conservative approach to social policy which — contrary to the conventional political wisdom — utilises state intervention to reduce the size of government.

This position may be difficult to accept for economic liberals who place a premium on individual freedom and freedom from government control.

However, it is impossible to deal with the issue of welfare dependence by simply applying the first principle that government should always do less.

As former Labor Minister and social commentator Gary Johns has argued, it is crucial to continue to make the economic case for freedom from state intervention.

But as he has also rightly argued, this is insufficient to address the social problems that have driven growth in the size of government.

Addressing welfare dependence will require more, not less, state intervention through policies such as mutual obligation and cashless welfare.

Yes, according to Dr Sammut (blessed with an expensive private education and a PhD in  Australian political and social history) it’s all about the children and the chronically welfare dependent underclass.

Except the Turnbull Government intends to roll the cashless debit card out nationally for individuals without children, people with significant disabilities, full-time carers of elderly parents, even those who have been on unemployment benefits for less than less than a month, as well as individuals who have regular employment but receive Family Tax Benefit.

It is likely that sometime in the future the Turnbull Government will announce that this cashless welfare card will also be imposed on age pensioners.


In addition Dr Sammut espouses the theory that:


Yes, you are reading that sentence correctly. According to this man individuals and families have only themselves to blame for their poverty or disadvantage – end of story.

Jeremy Sammut is the type of commentator that the Liberal Party dreams about having on side.

On his Facebook page Sammut lists the following among his favourites:


No prizes for spotting the preponderance of right-wing politicians.

Last year Sammut was telling the world it was an exciting time to be an Australian conservative – a category into which he obviously placed himself.

After reading a bit about the man and his attitude, all I can say is that if this attitude continues to hold sway at federal policy level I don’t think it going to be an exciting time to be an Australian who is receiving welfare benefits of any type, is in a low-skilled, low income job, a single parent raising a child or an indigenous family.

Because to people like Jeremy Sammut literally millions of Australian citizens are part of an undeserving, dysfunctional underclass that is to be barely tolerated.