Expansion of Cashless Debit Card in Doubt

As reported in The Guardian, the Government’s proposed extension of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) is in doubt, following the announcement by the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) that it will not provide support in the Senate.

Passage of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 would have permitted extension of the current trials in Ceduna and East Kimberley for one year to 30 June 2019, and the expansion of the CDC to anywhere in Australia, including planned trials at Kalgoorlie in WA and the electorate of Hinkler in Queensland's Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region.  

NXT is opposing a broader expansion, claiming the card is expensive and a lack of conclusive evidence that the existing trials are helping people.   NXT would only support further expansion of the CDC if there is genuine community support and consultation, accompanied by wraparound support services.

It’s worth noting that NXT and Labor are not entirely opposed to the CDC, taking a community-by-community approach to its further rollout.  Labor is also seeking an extension of the existing trials in Ceduna and East Kimberly to 30 June 2019, to allow a proper evaluation over a longer trial period. 

ACOSS is firmly opposed to mandatory cash management as it fails to treat people with dignity and respect.  ACOSS say income management should only occur on a individual voluntary basis, with community support and wrap around supports, such has drug and alcohol, mental health, financial counselling and social support.  

The Bill is due to be considered by the Senate on 8 February.