Income

The future of revenue management is unclear as the end of the cashless debit card draws near

Legislation to scrap the controversial cashless debit card program is set to become one of the first bills debated by the new parliament, as the federal government pushes ahead with its campaign commitments.

While it raises questions for thousands of people on the card, another form of revenue management in the Northern Territory – affecting more people – could also end soon: the Basics Card.

So what does all of this mean for community members, whose well-being has long been managed?

NT remote communities like Santa Teresa in Central Australia have been subject to revenue management since 2007.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

What’s going on with cashless welfare?

The cashless debit card trial quarantines up to 80% of a person’s welfare payments and cannot be used to buy alcohol, gamble or withdraw cash.

More than 17,000 people are on the map – many of them Indigenous – in South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

A damning Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on the trial, published in June, found that the Morrison government had failed to demonstrate that the program worked, despite ongoing trials for over of five years.

Legislation to end it has passed the House of Representatives and will be considered by the Senate in September.

If the Labor Bill passes the Senate, the cashless debit card will soon no longer be mandatory at venues across Australia, leaving communities to choose whether revenue management will continue in some form or form. other.

Andrew Walton holds his map and does calculations on a notepad as the camera looks over his shoulder
The Basics Card is limited as it can only be used in approved businesses.(ABC News: Emilia Terzon)

So where does the Basics Card fit in?

The base map is another form of revenue management currently in place, which was introduced during the NT intervention and then expanded in 2010.

It quarantines the social benefits of more than 22,000 people in the Northern Territory.

Although similar to the cashless debit card, it quarantines 50% of welfare recipients’ money and can only be used in approved stores.

Ahead of the election, Labor said it would be scrapped, making welfare administration voluntary if it wins.

However, he has since reneged on that promise.

Last month, federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said more consultation was needed before changing the base map.

“We want to work with communities in the Northern Territory, on what the future of this kind of revenue management looks like,” she said.

Do people want revenue management to stay?

Revenue management has received mixed reviews from those subject to it.

Phillip Goodman, community leader of 15 Mile in Palmerston, said the Basics Card helps vulnerable people spend their money more wisely.

Philip Goodman
Phillip Goodman says the map has helped people in his community.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

“Those who gamble, they will gamble their money or drink it,” he said.

“In my community, that’s what I fear [of]that’s why I want this Basics Card to stay.

“It’s a sure thing to keep for finances and even bills, you pay your bills on time and everything, save your car, pay your bills and electric bills and everything.”

However, others have expressed frustration with the limitations of the Basics card – which does not allow users to buy second-hand items online or withdraw enough money to spend in the market for cash-only goods. – and the stigma and shame that cashless welfare brings.

Lingiari MP Marion Scrymgour said the important thing was to give people a choice.

“It’s not the government stepping in and saying, ‘we’re going to take away your right to make decisions for you and your family,'” she said.

Labor candidate Lingiari Marion Scrymgour, standing outside on a sunny day and smiling at the camera.
Marion Scrymgour says there is little evidence to support the cashless debit card program.(ABC News: Hamish Harty)

‘Recipe for Disaster’

The country’s liberal Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has said making revenue management voluntary in the Northern Territory as the lifting of alcohol bans in some communities could backfire.

She said some welfare recipients may be pressured by family members to hand over their money to spend on alcohol.

“If you have family members struggling with alcohol addiction, with gambling issues, that request from you to hand over everything you own to feed their addiction is huge,” she said. declared.

Aspiring federal politician Jacinta Price stands up and looks worried.
Jacinta Price says alcohol-fueled violence can stem from changes to revenue management measures.(ABC News)

“It’s not about empowering people.

“This is, again, about taking away the rights of vulnerable people and prioritizing the rights of those who commit violence, who would like to be able to access alcohol to feed their alcohol addiction, who are quite regularly involved with the justice system because of their way of life.