Showing posts with label Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor & vulnerable. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor & vulnerable. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Quotes of the Week


"We pursue the most vulnerable people with more energy than we pursue corporations."  [Christine Craik , Australian Association of Social Workers, The Canberra Times, 9 October 2019]

"WaterNSW has responsibility for water licensing, approvals, trading and establishing priorities for water management in the Murray Darling Basin and yet not one of the Ministerial appointed board, has any background or experience in rural NSW or represents the interests of rural water suppliers. Clearly there is a need for change and those who are in charge of WaterNSW need to be more attuned to the needs of river communities and the importance of rules for water management that reflect the importance of maintaining town and country water supplies.” Brewarrina Shire Council, at NSW Local Government Conference, October 2019]

In Australia, the only thing as certain as drought is the subsequent calls by politicians to build new dams.” [ The Australia Institute Senior Water Researcher Maryanne Slattery, writing in The Guardian, 15 October 2019]

Friday, 18 October 2019

Seems Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor and vulnerable may have its roots in the right-wing American culture he so admires


Stricter eligibility requirements when applying for Centrelink benefits, allowances and pensions. Reducing the scope of human intervention in decision making. Automated assessment of ongoing eligibility. Automatic suspension of cash transfers.

Sound familiar? Well it seems that the U.S.A. refined applying punitive measures to the poor and vulnerable long before Australia's right-wing warriors in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government began their all out class war.

American began limiting eligibility and applying algorithms in the 1970s and 1980s

The Guardian, 14 October 2019: 

All around the world, from small-town Illinois in the US to Rochdale in England, from Perth, Australia, to Dumka in northern India, a revolution is under way in how governments treat the poor. 

You can’t see it happening, and may have heard nothing about it. It’s being planned by engineers and coders behind closed doors, in secure government locations far from public view. 

Only mathematicians and computer scientists fully understand the sea change, powered as it is by artificial intelligence (AI), predictive algorithms, risk modeling and biometrics. But if you are one of the millions of vulnerable people at the receiving end of the radical reshaping of welfare benefits, you know it is real and that its consequences can be serious – even deadly. 

The Guardian has spent the past three months investigating how billions are being poured into AI innovations that are explosively recasting how low-income people interact with the state. Together, our reporters in the US, Britain, India and Australia have explored what amounts to the birth of the digital welfare state. 

Their dispatches reveal how unemployment benefits, child support, housing and food subsidies and much more are being scrambled online. Vast sums are being spent by governments across the industrialized and developing worlds on automating poverty and in the process, turning the needs of vulnerable citizens into numbers, replacing the judgment of human caseworkers with the cold, bloodless decision-making of machines. 

At its most forbidding, Guardian reporters paint a picture of a 21st-century Dickensian dystopia that is taking shape with breakneck speed. The American political scientist Virginia Eubanks has a phrase for it: “The digital poorhouse.” 

As one recipient described it: “You owe what you have eaten.” 

In the UK, we investigate the secure government site outside Newcastle where millions are being spent developing a new generation of welfare robots to replace humans. Private companies including a New York outfit led by the world’s first bot billionaire, are supercharging a process which has spawned a whole new jargon: “virtual workforce”, “augmented decision-making”, “robot process automation”. 

The government is rushing forward with its digital mission despite the pain already being inflicted on millions of low-income Britons by the country’s “digital by default” agenda. Claimants spoke of the hunger, filth, fear and panic that they are enduring.

In Australia, where the Guardian has reported extensively on robodebt, the scheme that has been accused of wrongly clawing back historic debts through a flawed algorithm, we now disclose that the government has opened a new digital front: using automation to suspend millions of welfare payments. Recipients are finding their money cut off without notice.

Read the full article here.

It is not hard to draw a line between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's admiration for all things Republican and religiously conservative in America and his apparent desire to place all welfare recipients on the Indue Limited cashless debit card before the next federal election in 2022.

Scott Morrison's war on the poor is being expanded under the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management to Cashless Debit Card Transition) Bill 2019 which is currently before the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs which will report to the Australian Parliament on 7 November 2019.

To date no welfare recipients have made submissions to the Senate standing committee on this bill. I suspect that this is due in large measure to the fact that Centrelink in particular has released personal information about welfare recipients who have gone public in the past and, there is anecdotal information that certain recipients who have spoken out publicly about life on the cashless welfare card have been sanctioned in some manner.

Monday, 14 October 2019

What if privatisation of Centrelink pension/benefit/allowance cash transfer delivery ends in tears?


It is increasingly evident that Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison eventually intends to place all Centrelink clients on the Indue Limited Cashless Debit Card.

Apparently this policy change comes under the heading of either 'tough love' or 'compassionate conservatism' - whichever term Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators think sounds good at the time - when in reality it is establishing yet another market for poverty profiteers*.

In all the pious and poisonous spin being uttered by those making war on the poor and vulnerable, there has been little said about any government guarantee covering the millions Centrelink regularly deposits with Indue Limited.

What happens to the mandated 80 per cent of a Centrelink client's welfare payment held on the Cashless Debit Card if Indue ceases to trade, trades while insolvent or is placed under administration? 

How many corporate debtors would take precedence over welfare recipients in the distribution of whatever assets Indue had left if it declares bankruptcy?

Would sole parents, the unemployed, students, disability and age pensioners or other recipients ever get back any of the money which has been forcibly retained on these debit cards?

Notes

* See: Bielefeld, Dr. S, Griffith University Law School (2018), Technologising the poor: Cashless Debit Card trials expanding despite no credible evidence regarding positive outcomes  

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government and Indue Limited still haven't ironed the bugs out of the punitive cashless debit card scheme


The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government's Indue Limited cashless debit card trial began three and a half years ago in March 2016 and still neither Centrelink nor Indue have ironed the bugs out of this debit card scheme.

In the current total debit card trial population, 1 in 12 people on the have applied to come off this card by 31 July 2019.

There are reportedly 6,000 people on the cashless debit card trial in regional southern Queensland and some are speaking up.....

ABC News, 8 October 2019:

...some of the people taking part in the trial feel the cashless debit card places unreasonable restrictions on their spending and can even make it more difficult to save.
They said they could no longer buy second-hand goods online, often don't have enough cash for cheaper supermarket food, and the debit card restricts payments to money owing on credit accounts.
"It's definitely made things a lot harder, I've found it harder to budget," Childers resident and single mother Hannah Leacy told 7.30.
"I'm losing out on interest that I could potentially be building up in my savings account if I'd been able to transfer that."
She feels she is being penalised for something she hasn't done.
"I got my first job at Domino's when I was 13, and I've had a job ever since," she said.

"I've been independent up until now, and now at 34, I'm now deemed to be incapable of making appropriate choices, financially.".......
People forced onto the cashless welfare card as part of a trial in the Bundaberg-Hervey Bay area of Queensland say they feel stigmatised and humiliated by the Federal Government.
"I feel like in the Government's eyes I'm a lesser person. In the public's eyes it's much, much worse," Kerryn Griffis told 7.30.
"What have I ever done for the government to treat me this way? To treat thousands of other people this way?

"We've been branded as drug addicts and alcoholics and gamblers and dole bludgers.
"Most of us are just doing the best we can to get by.".....
But for Ms Griffis, the trial feels like a punishment.

"If my partner was to quarantine some of my money and tell me where and when I can't spend it, tell me it's for my own good … people would be screaming financial abuse," she said.
"Why is it OK for the Government to do it?"

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Quote of the Week


"Also last week, Social Services Minister Anne Ruston made the extraordinary claim that raising the Newstart payment would only benefit drug dealers and publicans. The denigration of the poor by the Morrison Government and its supporters shows no sign of easing. Indeed, this past week indicates an escalation in Government propaganda, designed to provoke increasing public hostility and resentment towards the most vulnerable people in our society. There are powerful people both in and outside of government, with platforms provided by various media, whose goal is to humiliate, denigrate and destroy others on the sole basis that they are receiving Newstart."  [Jennifer Wilson writing in Independent Australia, 4 October 2019]

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan avoids questions about Coalition Government-Indue Limited's punitive cashless debit card for welfare recipients


Clarence Valley Independent, 2 October 2019:

The latest federal budget underwrote $128.8 million over four years, from 2019-20, to fund the trial rollout of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC), including the provision of “funding to expand the Cashless Debit Card to a fifth site”.
Test areas are located in the Ceduna region in South Australia (from March 2016) and the East Kimberley (from April 2016) and Goldfields (from March 2018) regions in Western Australia.
In January this year, a trial commenced in the Bundaberg / Hervey Bay region in Queensland – the Clarence Valley local government area is statistically much the same as Hervey Bay’s, according to the 2016 census, apart from the valley being home to a larger indigenous population.
“This proposal is expected to have a positive impact on regional Australia by reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, and gambling in communities and providing improved technology for participants subject to welfare quarantining,” the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development website states.
Another Clarence Valley publication recently ran a headline with Page MP Kevin Hogan reportedly saying the implantation of the cashless welfare card is a “no brainer” an described his position as an “impassioned defence” of the CDC.
With the possible rollout of another trial area and the similarity of Clarence Valley LGA’s census data to the Hervey Bay area, the Independent sought Mr Hogan’s thoughts, preparing several questions (with context provided) and putting them in an email, along with an invitation to speak directly about the issue, which Mr Hogan declined.....
Read the full article here.