Early exits granted after card changes clear parliament
WELFARE recipients on the Cashless Debit Card could have an early exit to the program after major amendments to the policy passed the House of Representatives.
Aside from an extension to trial sites in Ceduna, the Goldfields and East Kimberley regions, part of the policy was amended to allow people who demonstrate reasonable management of their financial affairs to exit the scheme, if approved by a community body.
The amendments, supported by Labor, passed the House of Representatives on Thursday.
While the move is expected to provide some relief to Hinkler residents - who will still have to remain on the card until June 2020 - the Greens have slammed the extension proposal as "bad policy".
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said there was a lot of concern about how the proposed community panels would operate.
"They are a significant breach of privacy for income support recipients who already have to deal with the stigma of the card," Ms Siewert said.
"There is also no requirement for people on the panels to have any experience of income support or vulnerable people.
"This is a failed social experiment and the ALP are now the enablers of this approach."
But Hinkler MP Keith Pitt accused the Greens of spreading misinformation about the exemption process.
"Applications can be made from July, in line with the criteria set out in the legislation, the Secretary of the Department of Social Services will then need to carefully assess these criteria before removing anyone from the trial," Mr Pitt said.
"The criteria to be considered include, but is not limited to, financial management, the interest of any children, the risk of homelessness, the person's individual health and safety and other circumstances."
The Cashless Debit Card, currently being trialled in the Hinkler electorate, quarantines 80 per cent of their welfare payments and restricts alcohol and gambling purchases.
About 6000 people across Hervey Bay and Bundaberg are currently on the card.