Senate must reject cashless debit card legislation

16 August 2018

With no credible evidence available showing an improvement in people’s lives, ACOSS calls on the Senate to reject the expansion of the cashless debit card policy listed for debate today.

The cashless debit card restricts 80 percent of a person’s income so that it cannot be spent on alcohol, gambling and drugs. However, the card applies to anyone in the target regions on income support payments of a certain age, even if they don’t use alcohol, drugs or gamble.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS says:

“The government must not expand a policy that humiliates people, and invades a person’s basic privacy, without any credible evidence that such restriction is justified. 

“The cashless debit card is paternalistic, intrusive and punitive, and is being expanded without any clear evidence it helps people.

“The cashless debit policy only serves to discriminate against people on low incomes.”

“The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)’s recent review of the government’s evaluation of the current cashless debit trials in Ceduna SA and Kununurra WA found there is inadequate evidence to determine whether the program has reduced social harm.

“We call on the Senate to oppose the expansion of the cashless debit card.

“People are on unemployment and other payments because they are looking for paid work or caring for children. There is only one paid position available for every 8 applicants and restricting access to cash is not going to change this.

“The Parliament should instead focus on improving employment outcomes and opportunities for people across Australia, rather than punishing people for being on a low income.”

Read our recent submission on the proposed expansion.