Showing posts with label welfare payments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label welfare payments. Show all posts

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]

Friday, 11 October 2019

Federal Liberal MPs dislike people calling a spade a spade


~~~~~~~~~~
"If the government actually though that calling it robodebt caused more anxiety, they'd have named it that themselves"  [@RichardAOB, 4 October 2019]
~~~~~~~~~~

The Guardian, 4 October 2019:

The Coalition’s controversial debt recovery scheme should not be called robodebt, Liberal MPs say, in part because the phrase is causing anxiety in the community.

A day after the Liberal senator Matt O’Sullivan told the first hearing of a Senate inquiry into the scheme “robodebt” was a “misnomer”, his colleague, Hollie Hughes, admonished representatives from Western Australia’s community legal centres for using the term.

Hughes also told the inquiry on Friday the term robodebt was “a bit of a misnomer, particularly under the current system”.

And I think using that term is probably creating a bit more anxiety than is required,” Hughes said. “If we’re trying to reduce the anxiety around this, probably not using that term particularly in these sorts of settings would be helpful.”

Despite noting improvements to the program, including increased involvement from Centrelink staff and outreach to affected welfare recipients, the WA legal centres said on Friday that the scheme was still having an adverse impact on vulnerable people.

~~~~~~~~~~
"I actually agree with the politicians saying that ‘robodebt’ is a misnomer... it implies there was actually a debt in the first instance. Maybe ‘robotheft’, ‘robowehatepoorpeople’ or ‘robofuckyou’ would be more appropriate?”  [@LukeLPearson, 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.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Debt collector used by DHS-Centrelink to chase unproven robodebts being sued by Australia’s consumer watchdog for a raft of coercive and unconscionable practices


IT News, 24 September 2019: 

A debt collector recently awarded a $3.3 million contract by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to chase money for Centrelink is wholly owned by a company being sued by Australia’s consumer watchdog for a raft of coercive and unconscionable practices. 

In an embarrassing twist to the ongoing Robodebt controversy, iTnews can reveal ARL Collect (Pty Ltd), which is wholly owned by Queensland based Panthera Finance, snared a plum debt recovery deal from DHS just weeks before its parent company was hit by landmark legal action from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 

The ACCC’s case against Panthera accuses the firm of coercing payments from people – including identity fraud victims – for bills they did not actually owe. 

The direct ownership link between the two companies, which technically are separate legal and financial entities, raises fresh questions around the adequacy of vetting and due diligence surrounding government outsourcing deals, especially those dealing with vulnerable people. 

The ACCC’s action against Panthera, lodged in the Federal Court on 24th July this year, sets out an appalling litany of allegations related to undue harassment and coercion, unconscionable conduct and false and misleading representation to consumers. 

They include forcing money from identity fraud victims by using credit default listings as leverage and follow consumer complaints made about Panthera. 

According to Department of Finance records, DHS published notification of the $3.3 million ARL Collect contract on 29th July; however the contract period is listed as running from 1st July 2019 to 30th June 2020, indicating the tender was let prior to commencement of action by the ACCC. 

The ACCC’s allegations against Panthera, ARL Collects’s owner, all stem from commercial recovery actions, namely attempts to collect on contested bills issued by utilities AGL, Origin Energy and Telstra, raising serious questions of governance and corporate culture. 

A particularly embarrassing coincidence for the government and DHS is that all the examples put forward to the court by the ACCC in its allegations arise from payment demands made by Panthera for bills that were not actually owed and actively disputed by those hit by recovery actions. 

The revelations that the ultimate owner of DHS’s contracted debt collector is a current target of regulatory action is another headache for the government as it vigorously defends its data matching-reliant enforcement regime. 

A class action now in the works against Robodebt being mounted by Gordon Legal also broadly makes its case along the lines of an unreasonable burden of proof being foisted on people labelled debtors, while organisations claiming to be creditors get away with questionable claims. 

The Department of Human Services, its minister Stuart Robert and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have steadfastly maintained welfare overpayment recovery mechanisms are subject to due administrative process, a stance that has done little to quell criticism of Robodebt, which has now become a political weapon. 

Irrespective of the politics, the ACCC’s case against Panthera is highly significant because it spotlights the poor conduct of some collection agencies. 

It also reveals how receivables ledgers of questionable data accuracy are on-sold and the way legitimately disputed debt is treated. 

And it goes deep into the hardball culture and often high pressure tactics of the darker corners of the collections industry, a sector that has been struggling to reform its image......

In one of the examples, a Queensland woman anonymised as “Witness A” disputed a $378 debt for an Origin electricity bill racked up under her name for an address in New South Wales where the woman had never lived. 

She had also never been a customer of Origin. After filing a complaint with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and supplying Panthera with the case reference number the debt collector still pursued her. 

“Witness A again informed them that she had never lived in NSW, she had provided an ACORN reference number and stated that she had never received Centrelink payments in her life, referring to the Centrelink deductions recorded on the Origin bills provided to her,” the ACCC court documents state. 

“Witness A provided Panthera with the details of the person the police had informed her was responsible for the Origin Debt, including that the person still resided at the NSW premises to which the electricity was supplied, and also with the relevant police officer’s contact information,” the ACCC’s court documents continue. 

Despite this, Panthera continued asking her for information she just did not have, the ACCC alleges.....

In another case a man dubbed "Witness B" told Panthera that he believed a Telstra mobile broadband account created in his name had been fraudulently obtained. 

Despite a police officer telling Panthera that she was “looking into fraud” in relation to the account “the man still had a credit default listed against his name.” What came next borders on extortion. 

“On 4 April 2017, a Panthera representative called Witness B’s financial advisor and stated that Panthera was aware of Witness B’s dispute and was investigating it, offered to negotiate a payment in order to secure the removal of the default listing and represented that Witness B would need to make a payment of $100 to Panthera in order for the default listing to be removed,” the ACCC’s court documents state. 

“This was in circumstances where the Panthera representative knew that Witness B’s account was in the process of being ‘written off’ by Panthera, but also knew that Witness B needed the default listing removed quickly because he was trying to obtain finance.” 

Even after paying the $100 and Panthera telling the man the default listing had been removed “as at September 2018 Witness B’s credit file still contained a default listing with respect to the Telstra Debt”.......

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Meet the Indue Class Warfare Card


Think the Australian Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is not seriously considering a national roll-out of the Indue Cashless Debit Card?

Do you think that living many hundreds of kilometres in any direction from current debit card trial sites proves that that the Liberal Party's head hater of the poor and vulnerable is not yet planning to specifically target you and your family?

Recently noticed that your bank's ATM now has a function icon which allows the limited use of these particular debit cards in order to facilitate a person's ability to access the paltry 20 per cent of a welfare payment which can be paid out in cash under this punitive income management scheme?



Thursday, 19 September 2019

At last, a class action to be mounted against Morrison Government's error-prone 'robodebt'


If any of the following applies to you and you are considering joining this class action challenge on behalf of Centrelink clients who were served with a debt notice, the following are first contact details for the law firm which may act for you if you are eligible:

Gordon Legal

Ph: 1300 55 50 16

Informaton at https://gordonlegal.com.au/robodebt-class-action/ Online contact form at https://gordonlegal.com.au/contact

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

The Guardian, 17 September 2019:

Gordon Legal has put out its official statement on the class action: 

"The law firm will challenge, on behalf of affected persons, the government’s use of a flawed calculation system by Centrelink to unlawfully take back tens of millions of dollars from many thousands of Centrelink recipients, including pensioners. 

The money for pensioners, carers, widows, students, farmers and unemployed people was taken from them due to a one-size-fits-all online compliance system. 

The robodebt scheme has been in place since mid-2016, its legality was first raised with us by the new shadow minister for government services, Bill Shorten. 

The basis for the challenge is that that the federal government financially benefited when it wrongfully took and banked money that legitimately belonged to recipients. 

Gordon Legal Senior Partner Peter Gordon says ‘investigations reveal between two to three hundred million dollars have been wrongly taken from people, and making it even worse was many were hit with penalties of 10% on those amounts.’ 

‘These people are the least able groups to afford the heavy-handed actions which are based on a system that used ATO averages that didn’t take into account individual circumstances.’ 

‘The unfair and incorrect assumptions had a devastating financial impact on people’s lives. The emotional distress for people who have done nothing wrong has been high.’ 

‘The robodebt system put debt collectors onto innocent people to chase unlawful debts.’ 

‘They have been unfairly financially disadvantaged and must be repaid with interest, penalties dropped and damages paid.’ 

‘The amounts owed will vary from case to case but the average repayments could be a few thousand dollars which is vital from a financial and wellbeing perspective for these people who are least able to afford it.’

Peter Gordon says ‘The people in this class action were not gaming the system. They had honest claims to payments and allowances that Robodebt wrongly assessed, penalised and pursued with harsh consequences.’ 

‘If you have been unfairly affected by Robodebt, you should register your details on the Gordon Legal website and we will be in touch.’ 

Gordon Legal considers a class action is likely to be the best way to deliver redress for people unfairly impacted by Robodebt." [my yellow highlighting]

Peter Gordon: 

"The class action element of the claim is reasonably straightforward. What is innovative about this is to bring a claim against the government for damages for unjust enrichment that will require the high court to recognise legal principles, which I hardly recognised in other common law countries, particularly the United Kingdom. It may break new ground. We think there … is a strong legal basis for it. 

In order for a class action to proceed, either in a state court or the federal jurisdiction, you need to demonstrate that there appear to be several more people who have claims with similar or the same common issues in the fact of law, and there are clearly a large number of people who have similar issues of fact and of law. 

So the question of its status as a class action is not particularly controversial. Under class-action law, not every case needs to be exactly the same. They only have to be roughly similar. Not every case needs to be bound to succeed. You simply need to demonstrate that there are cases that have similar issues that the court can resolve for the benefit of everybody. 

Everyone who believes they are aggrieved is entitled to bring their own actions, whether they are in the ART or as appropriately advised. We are working with the legal aid agencies, but it doesn’t take, I think, a lot of consideration of what has happened to understand that if a template approach has been applied across 800,000 people, and there are admittedly, on the part of the government, 150,000 errors that have been made, that’s a very large number of mistakes which have been made. If they’ve been made, there is a limit to the ability of any court system and indeed bureaucracy to take them off one by one. 

We think it’s appropriate that if there are common issues that have been got wrong by the Commonwealth, that they be addressed in a way that gives everyone release, not just those who are able to access lawyers and legal aid or have the wherewithal all the records to be able to do it themselves."

Bill Shorten: 

" Let’s be clear, we’ve asked the government to fix this, but they’ve got it wrong. If the government through parliament won’t fix the problem, I think giving justice to victims through class action is a legitimate political approach to take. 

Question: Should the program then in your view be suspended while this class action is even being looked at? 

That would be smart for them to suspend it. The question you have to ask is why is the government looking at a blanket scheme looking at annual wages data against people getting fortnightly payments? 

They are hoping they can shake down people into paying up. This is a government building their government position based on this faulty, immoral and quite possibly illegal scheme, but they should suspend it and rule out extending it to anyone else, and in fact they should revisit their own files and perhaps sit down and work out why this is wrong and stop it. 

The government keeps reaching for blaming Labor pre-2013. Robodebt, this online compliance system, was introduced by the current government. 

The current government announced compliance campaigns in 2015, 2016, and they started introducing robodebt, their use of an algorithm to data match. 

It was born under this government and the pathology of robodebt is sick, it has caused countless harm. I give a shoutout to the media, you’ve all covered the problems of robodebt, but at what point in Australia do you say once you’ve seen individual case after individual case it is called a pattern, and the pattern shows robodebt is immoral itself. 

What we and Gordon Legal is going to do is testing the legal foundations of robodebt, because my own research in the last couple of months has led me to believe it is almost certainly illegal and I just have to do research through the stories you’ve covered to say there is a sickness at the heart of robodebt which needs to be cured."


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Australian PM Scott 'Liar from the Shire' Morrison caught manipulating and misleading the electorate yet again - this time over the cashless welfare card


"In these trials, we have seen 48% of drug takers using fewer drugs, 41% of drinkers drinking less, and 48% of gamblers gambling less." [Liberal Party of Australia, Our Plan, April 2019]

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party are living up to their reputations as a politician and party who rarely speak the truth.

One social media user called Morrison out over his misuse of statistics, as he pushes forward with his plan to control and penalise all wefare recipients by restricting access to Centrelink cash transfer payments (pensions, benefits, allowances etc) by placing these payments on the Indue Limited Cashless Debit Card.

Turns out that hidden in his misuse of statistics is the fact that of those Ceduna and Kununurra cashless debit card trial participants surveyed in 2017 only est. 8 people self-reported a reduction in the use of alcohol.

[https://twitter.com/AusGovSlave/status/1173505356317655041]

The 2017 final trial evaluation report itself notes that there was a risk that participants may only have reported lower alcohol consumption, illicit drug use or gambling because they believed that: a) to claim a reduction in use was the more socially acceptable answer; and/or b) this is what the questioner wanted to hear.

It noted that some existing data sets relied on were for broader areas than the trial sites and could not be reliably narrowed to those sites and, that there was no adequate time series data available to perform robust preTrial and post-Trial comparisons.

The final report also notes that survey did not necessarily gain a statistically representative random sample of the underlying population due to unequal selection probabilities.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Morrison Government's aged bonus just a political shell game


The New Daily, 9 September 2019:
It was billed as an $800 aged bonus, with a million pensioners promised a cash splash under Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s deeming rate change.
But documents released under freedom of information laws to The New Daily have revealed that seniors will secure just $5 a week on average for singles.
The average windfall for aged pensioners is just $249 a year for singles – a fraction of the $800 pensioner bonus heralded across front pages in July.
For couples, the average payment under the deeming rate changes is $3 a week and $156 a year.
Thousands of pensioners not affected by the deeming rate changes because they don’t have investments will get nothing.
Nearly half of all pensioners who receive the couples rate – 46 per cent – will secure less than $130 a year.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has repeatedly refused to provide the breakdown of how many pensioners will secure the $800 maximum payout.
The FoI documents reveal that the percentage of pensioners who will secure the $800 aged bonus promised in front-page newspaper reports is indeed a rare breed.
According to the department’s data, they represent just less than 1 per cent of the one million pensioners who are better off under the changes.
The number of pensioners on the couples rate who will secure $780 to $910 under the deeming rate changes total just 191 couples across Australia.
Source: Department of Social Services
National Seniors Australia chief advocate Ian Henschke said it was clear only a tiny fraction of the community will receive the $800 spruiked by the government.
Mr Henschke said because the changes are backdated, the first payment will be more generous in September. It will then shrink back to $3 a week on average.
“They will be tricked because when they open up their payment they will get a lump sum,” Mr Henschke said.
“Nobody has actually got the money yet. What we’ve got here is a classic case of a government not doing the right thing.”
The government uses an income and asset test to determine aged pension payments and the deeming rate is part of the income test.
Seniors have claimed the deeming rate is unfair because it assumes some pensioners are getting a better return from savings deposits than they do because interest rates are low......
On July 23, Ms Ruston’s office emailed The New Daily claiming the data did not exist to explain how many people got the maximum amount of $800......
The FoI documents provided to The New Daily outlining the exact data requested, not including redacted documents, runs to more than 30 pages.
Previous freedom of information requests lodged by The New Daily revealed hundreds of pages of emailed correspondence back and forth between the minister’s office and the department over the original request for the information on how many pensioners get the $800.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

If you are a welfare recipient in any shape of form - be afraid, be very afraid



It appears in his profound ignorance and overwhelming arrogance Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison intends to privatize the welfare safety net....... 


Morrison has a very particular view of how welfare should be approached. On one level, it is a sort of neoliberal/austerity view, entirely at one with the direction of government policy since the 1980s.

But it is more complex that. Morrison seems to want to move to what we might call a post-neoliberal approach, with welfare built around financial instruments such as so-called Social Interest Bonds (SIBs)…..

To put it another way, there is no money in ending poverty, but there is profit to be had in meeting metrics that break 'the intergeneral cycle of poverty and disadvantage.'

Regardless, the whole approach ties in completely with Morrison's view that, 'welfare must become a good deal for investors' and that 'we must make it a good deal' (emphasis added).

That is to say, to be a good deal for investors, various forms of control and discipline must be enacted upon welfare recipients in order to help ensure targets are met and profits are realised via instruments like SIBs.

Drug testing and cashless welfare cards are two ways of doing that, and that is why Scott Morrison is advocating them. He is laying the groundwork for the introduction of instruments such as SIBs.

In the meantime, he is more than happy for the State to be an 'enforcer' without them.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Morrison Government continues to mislead concerning results of Indue Cashless Debit Card trials


“it is difficult to conclude whether there had been a reduction in social harm and whether the card was a lower cost welfare quarantining approach.” [Australian National Audit Office ANAO, The Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial (Performance Audit Report, 1 of 2018-2019)]

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.....




His minister said.....

The Courier Mail, 29 August 2019:

YOUTH unemployment has dropped since the cashless welfare card was introduced to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, while the number of people in the region on welfare has fallen at double the national rate. 

For the first time the impact of the controversial card can be revealed, as a push for the trial to be rolled out nationally intensifies. 

The trial was rolled out in the region in January this year, the first test sites outside predominantly indigenous communities. 

The card quarantines about 80 per cent of dole payments so they can’t be used for drugs, alcohol or gambling. Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, in Hervey Bay today, will reveal the number of people on Newstart or Youth Allowance has dropped. 

In Bundaberg people on the welfare payments dropped 8.7 per cent, or by 502 people, to 5277 recipients in the past year, while in Hervey Bay there has been a 10 per cent fall to 3482 recipients. 

This compares to a five per cent drop of people on Newstart or Youth Allowance nationally. Youth unemployment in the region has dropped from 19.8 per cent in January to 18.5 per cent last month. 

Senator Ruston said the region was “punching above its weight” with the significant reduction in people relying on welfare payments. 

“We believe the cashless debit card is supporting people to demonstrate personal responsibility for their finances, helping to encourage financial independence and addressing intergenerational welfare dependence,” she said. 

There are 5746 people in the region on the CDC, while about 700 people have come off the card, either because they found work or they were suspended from welfare payments for breaching the rules. 

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said if the trial was successful it should be rolled out nationally for people under 35. [my yellow highlighting]

Siewert said......

Fraser Coast Chronicle, 3 September 2019: 

It was disappointing to see the government once again spread misinformation about the Cashless Debit Card in the Hinkler region. 

The government claims that unemployment has dropped in the Queensland trial site but they have used the data for the much larger region of Wide Bay as the basis for this claim. 

It’s like saying that unemployment has dropped in Canberra using the figures for the whole of NSW and I urge people to look more closely at their claims. 

Unemployment figures in the Wide Bay area dropped quite a bit before the trial started and have changed slightly since the card’s introduction and if you actually go and look at the raw data, they are clearly subject to seasonal variation. 

If government really has the evidence to prove it’s working, then release it.

If they are making these claims on data they have available it should be released for all to see. 

Communities are crying out for more support and services but instead community members are put on a card that makes life harder for them. 

The issues that this card is purported to address are complex and need individualised approaches to address. 

Despite the ANAO report saying there is no evidence of a reduction of social harm the government wants to continue to roll out the card. 

My office hears from people constantly who cannot pay their rent or bills using the card, who have problems with the card, who are not able to use cash economies like markets, second hand shops or op-shops to help them make ends meet. 

 RACHEL SIEWERT 
 Greens Senator for Western Australia
 [my yellow highlighting]