Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
Is the government rolling out the cashless welfare card nationally?
Singlemum.com.au has been following the development of Centrelink’s Cashless Debit Card for over five years and the fingerprints of this current prime minister, Scott Morrison, are all over it.
It was Scott Morrison who, in 2015, announced the development of the current version of the cashless welfare card, the Indue Cashless Debit Card when he was Minister for Social Services.
Before that, cashless welfare programs were delivered through a fairly limited magnetic swipe card called the Basics Card.
Now the Prime Minister Scott Morrison is back on the Cashless Welfare Card case and he’s committed to growing it.
Well he is committed to talking a lot about extending it. The cashless welfare program has always involved a lot more talking than actual action. It is still confined to just a few small communities and few thousand people.
The latest version of the cashless welfare card, the Indue Cashless Debit Card, widely known as the “Indue White Card” or just the “White Card” is under trial in Western Australia’s Kimberley and Goldfields, Queensland’s Bundaberg and Hervey Bay and in Ceduna in South Australia.
In the federal government’s May 2019 budget, an extension of the CDC to 22,500 more Centrelink recipients was announced. The new trial sites are all in the Northern Territory and Cape York and the trials are due to begin from April 2020. The laws enabling the extended trials are currently being debated in federal parliament and have not been passed yet.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the trials have been a success.
“This has been helping people actually get into jobs and better manage their own affairs,” Scott Morrison told ABC’s 7.30 program.
So helpful has it been, according to the prime minister, that the card is “commending itself for wider application.”
The Australian National Audit Office is less convinced about the success of the CDC. The ANAO said the Cashless Welfare Card trials have been inconclusive because of a “lack of robustness in data collection.”
Who will be getting a Centrelink Cashless Debit Card?
Mr Morrison said the roll-out of the Cashless Debit Card program would target young people under 30.
The card could be issued to people with drug addiction problems, the assistant minister to the Prime Minister, Ben Morton, wrote in Nine Fairfax newspapers today.
Explaining the government’s new drug testing scheme for Centrelink recipients, Mr Morton said:
“When you are detected with drugs in your system, you won’t lose your payments.
“Jobseekers who test positive will have their payments placed on income management. There will be no cut in income, just assistance to spend their funds wisely.”
Will single parents be placed on the Cashless Welfare Card?
Yes, mothers (and fathers) on Parenting Payment Single and Parenting Payment Partnered are being placed against their will on the Cashless Debit Card. Newstart and even Family Tax Benefits are also being paid on to the Cashless Debit Card in the trial sites.
Disability Pensioners and Youth Allowance recipients are also being put on the CDC program. Some aged pensioners are choosing to voluntarily go on the card but are not being forced.
However, the only Aussies being placed on the card in this new round of trials are 22,500 people in the Northern Territory and Cape York. That starts in April 2020.
While the government is talking a lot about rolling the card out nationally, eventually, this is not going to happen soon.
Other Australians are not being placed on the CDC and are not in danger of being put on the CDC, unless their town or community is announced as a new site for the CDC.
7,000 farmers are currently receiving Centrelink’s Farm Household Allowance (about equivalent to Newstart) and this too, could potentially be paid to an Indue CDC in the future, but also, not yet.
How does the Centrelink/Indue Cashless Debit Card work?
Centrelink recipients who are placed on income management are issued with a Cashless Debit Card from Indue Ltd.
The card quarantines 80% of a Centrelink payment for debit transactions at approved retailers only. No alcohol or gambling purchases are allowed and no cash withdrawals are permitted.
The remaining 20 per cent of a recipients’ payment is paid as normal, to their bank account and can be withdrawn as cash at an ATM or Eftpos terminal.
Centrelink’s Cashless Welfare Card is officially called the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) issued by Indue Ltd.
How to get off the Cashless Welfare Card get off the CDC program
Centrelink recipients living in the trial communities and currently getting 80% of their benefit or pension directly paid onto an Indue Cashless Debit Card can apply to exit the program and get their Centrelink payments paid direct into their normal everyday transaction bank account.
To get off Centrelink income management and exit the Cashless Debit Card program, you need to apply firstname.lastname@example.org and be able to show how you are responsibly managing your money and family. The CDC hotline is 1800 252 604.
Read more about getting off the Cashless Debit Card at InfoChoice.
Jason is an expert business, finance and consumer issues journalist specialising in personal finance, debt, consumer issues and banking, Jason is now based in Melbourne and works as a journalist for InfoChoice.com.au Previously Jason has worked for ABC TV, News Ltd and plenty of magazines and online publishers. You can keep up to date with the latest Centrelink news and information at Jason’s Facebook page, Centrelink News and check out the best children’s savings accounts here.
Jason is a proud single dad of three children who are all growing up fast. Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonBryce. Jason’s personal website is www.jasonbryce.com