Aboriginal groups slam possible cashless debit card expansion to the Northern Territory

12th Sep 2019

Aboriginal organisations have slammed moves to expand the cashless debit card across the Northern Territory.

The Federal Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert introduced the Income Management to Cashless Debit Card Transition Bill to the House of Reps on Wednesday.

If successful the Bill will extend existing trials of the cashless card an additional year to 2021 but also expand it to the Northern Territory and Cape York. This would mean some 23,000 welfare recipients could be transitioning from the basics card to the cashless debit card if the bill were to pass.

The card is currently being trailed in areas such as Ceduna in South Australia and the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

The cashless welfare card operates like a bank card except it quarantines a portion of a welfare recipients payments which cannot be used on things such as alcohol and gambling.

The Australian National Audit Office released an assessment of the implementation of the cashless debit card trials. Claiming it was difficult to determine whether it was reducing social harm or was a cost effective approach.

John Paterson spokesperson for APONT the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory, says First Nations peoples are tired of being guinea-pigs for Government programs.

Mr Paterson said there needs to be opt in options for individuals who want to be on income management.

The Australian Greens have also expressed their displeasure with the plans to expand the card. Speaking with the Guardian Australia, Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Senator Rachel Siewert said "it is a failed