Labor to scrap cashless welfare cards

January 23, 2019

The cashless welfare card will likely be scrapped under a Shorten Labor government.

The Advertiser reports, the scheme, which was introduced by the Coalition Government in 2016, puts 80 per cent of a welfare recipient’s benefits onto an EFTPOS-like card that can’t be used to buy alcohol, drugs or gambling products. The Conservative Party has long supported the initiative.

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Welfare card trials extended to 2020, with new trial location to be announced

The government plans to role out the cards in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg as part of a trial later this month following earlier trials in Western Australia and South Australia.

Opposition Leader Shorten has revealed that a Labor government would roll it back, arguing that the scheme doesn’t stack up.

Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher hit out at the Labor leader’s announcement, claiming that the card was making a “real difference” for thousands of Australians.

“Our Liberal National Government believes in improving our social services system - and helping Australians in the system to exercise personal responsibility to improve their lives and improve their communities,” he said.

“Bill Shorten is more interested in the votes of wealthy, inner city, left-leaning and Greens voters than he is in supporting vulnerable Australians.”

Mr Fletcher pointed to a recent evaluation of the trials in WA and South Australia, which showed 41 per cent of participants who drank alcohol reported drinking less frequently.

The same review also suggested 48 per cent of participants who used drugs reported using drugs less frequently.

Conservative Party South Australian Senate candidate Rikki Lambert said, "Labor’s decision to scrap the cashless welfare card in the South Australian town of Ceduna, further illustrates the Greens are dragging them, and politics, away from common sense solutions."

As far back as February 2017, Senator Bernardi voiced his support for the scheme.

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