Cashless Welfare Card for everyone, no ifs, no buts

Article published 24 March 2020

Cashless Welfare Card for everyone, no ifs, no buts

PENSIONERS are rightly concerned that the Cashless Welfare Card will cover them at some point in the maybe not so distant future.

CPSA finally, after four months, received a ministerial response. This is what it says:

Under current legislation, Age Pension recipients are not eligible to become compulsory [Cashless Welfare Card] participants…

Under current legislation, the letter says.

This falls well short of a categorical statement that Age Pensioners will never be put on the Cashless Welfare Card.

It would be such a simple statement to make.

Why doesn’t the Minister make it?

Meanwhile people receiving the Carer Payment and the Disability Support Pension are being put onto the Cashless Welfare Card even during these trials.

And this couldn’t happen to Age Pensioners?

Well, not “under current legislation”, but it certainly could under future legislation.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Social Services, who won’t make time to categorically rule out Age Pensioners being put onto the Cashless Welfare Card, does make time to make media statements like this:

“For [the Cashless Welfare Card] to be a mainstream financial literacy tool for Australia it does need to be rolled out away from just rural and regional communities, and that’s the conversation we need to have with the Australian public over the coming months”.

This phrase “mainstream financial literacy tool” should send shivers down the spine of every person in receipt of a social security payment. It means potentially everyone will be put onto the Cashless Welfare Card.

As the Minister for Social Services said:

“It [the Cashless Welfare Card] does need to have a broader application than perhaps the social harm reduction that the original policy was designed on”.

If a person on a social security payment could manage their money, the Minister seems to be implying, they wouldn’t be on a social security payment.

Here are some of the things pensioners have to say about the Cashless Welfare Card:


THE Cashless Welfare Card is financial abuse being perpetrated on the poorest, most vulnerable Australian citizens. It is a crime and must be treated as such. Those affected and those who care should revolt. – Colleen Goodfellow

I AM on a Disability Support Pension from Centrelink and I’m concerned about the Cashless Welfare Card. I am worried if I get the card, I would end up homeless, incarcerated or commit suicide. I have ASD1 and a mild hearing loss in both ears. I’m struggling to get some part time work. It’s not easy. – Chris Morris

I AM very worried about the threat of being forced onto the Cashless Welfare Card and I feel very upset for the people who are already on it against their will. – Philippa Mansor

I AM a 57-year-old woman on a Disability Support Pension. I am worried about this Cashless Welfare Card witch hunt. It seems the government is targeting the poor and injured. It’s going to cost millions to implement and yet they can’t give us an increase to bring us above the poverty line. I am disgusted like so many others at this abhorrent treatment. They treat taxpayers’ money as if it was their own to do as they wish. We need to remind them that they are employed by the taxpayer and they work for us. I was a taxpayer all my life until I found myself unable to work. – Trish Vandyk

I WAS horrified to read in THE VOICE that there may be a Cashless Welfare Card imposed on all pensioners in receipt of any Age Pension entitlements. I can understand some pension recipients having it applied to them. I believe it should only be imposed as a result of an investigation by Social Workers, Medical Doctors or Police. Others can be self-applicants due to their own circumstances. How would it work for those in nursing homes or where there is a Power of Attorney? I have read in areas where this card has been imposed, people have been subjected to a card fee of between 0.4 -1.5 % on top of purchases. It also raises the question: Will the government be offering interest on these accounts at the same rate as fixed deposit rates or better?  I oppose any such imposition like this on anyone who manages their own finances well. It is time to separate the Age Pension from other forms of welfare under the Act. The Age Pension is not welfare, as is unemployment or sickness benefits. – Andrew Wardle

TO quarantine people’s income is financial incarceration. People who, all their lives, have managed modest/declining incomes, raised a family, should not be subjected to a new financial straightjacket. It is not appropriate policy. There is no evidence that the card is appropriate. Research shows the card does not serve recipients well. – Ian MacDonald




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