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Welfare card to go national

The Morrison government is working on a sweeping expansion of its cashless welfare card to impose new controls on social security payments, despite furious claims the “discriminatory” scheme will stigmatise those who need help, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The big four banks and Coles and Woolworths are working on new technical measures that could allow the government to expand the scheme to a national rollout with the capacity to block the purchase of banned items such as alcohol and gambling.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston is clearing the way for new trials of the controversial card outside regional and remote Australia after “quite successful” work with banks and retailers on payment systems that could impose the curbs on welfare recipients in the major cities.

Senator Ruston said there was “absolutely” a case to introduce the cashless welfare card in major cities given the results at trials in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland, Ceduna in South Australia and the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

“The reason we haven’t done it in the major cities is because we need to deal with this technology issue, which we are now close to resolving,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the impact of cashless debit cards on unemployment and alcohol fueled violence merits a bigger roll out.

The plan marks a significant shift in the scale of the program and a new argument for imposing the controversial controls, with the government claiming it can help welfare recipients manage their money.

But Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has rejected the “misleading data” about the trial sites and argued there was no case for a wider rollout.

FULL STORY

‘Financial literacy tool’: Bid to take cashless welfare card national (Sydney Morning Herald)

Kununurra man Daniel Taylor on hunger strike over cashless welfare card (Perth Now)