Batch 3 of submissions
I firstly need to get some administrivia out of the way. I have changed the name of the third category which I have been assigning submissions that don’t appear to be adopting a position from ‘Unclear’ to ‘Other’. This was due to when I first chose the category name it was based on a submission that was exactly that – unclear, and I have come across other submissions since which are more advisory, and hence are not adopting a position for or against the CDCT, hence go into that now ‘Other’ category. Consequently, I have also moved one submission out of the Other category, the “ME, CFS and Lyme Association of WA” one, as it is against the CDC, even if it is only for its particular group.
So, 17th of October, and just under a month to go before the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs is due back to the dreaded Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017. Between this release of a further eleven submissions and the last batch, there has also been the first of two public hearings – the Kalgoorlie, WA one on the 12th of October. I have yet to fully review that hearing, but the little bit I did hear for a ‘for the card’ submission was not going well for them – with a Senator grilling them on evidence of community consultation and informed community consent to the card being implemented in their region. It was also satisfying to hear the Chair also instruct Senator Pauline Hanson to focus on questions, rather than grandstanding (although they were admittedly not the words used, but the meaning was quite clear). If you missed the live audio, I have a partial recording of it uploaded which you can listen to whilst we wait to see if a transcript is released (UPDATE: Blind me… it was there already!).
However, the eleven submissions released today. This batch was a mixed bag… four submission have been relegated to the ‘Other’ category – although having said that, they still outline issues with the CDCT, and are hence not singing praises of the currently policy. There are six more submissions that are strongly against the bill/CDC, and finally one in favour, thus bringing support for the CDCT to a staggering 4 submissions out of the 45 released thus far. Thus the ‘score’ so far is 4 submissions for, 6 other, and 35 against. Twiggy and Co must be fuming by now!
And as before, you can view the tracker spreadsheet here (with two graphs on the second page for those who like graphs), view or sync with my cache of the submissions, or you can get them directly from the Senate Inquiry submissions page.
Of particular significance in this batch is the release of the Council of Single Mothers and their Children Victoria submission, which has attached at the end what they referred to as “Anna’s story” – which is the first-hand recount of how one single mother was impacted by the CDC’s restrictions – being unable to buy second-hand goods, unable to make that quick visit to the shops because of minimum EFTPOS purchase amounts, delays in the balance being update on her card and in the app, which was costing too much in data fees to use anyway. It is a much-needed demonstration of how the CDC does nothing to achieve its stated goals, and how it can drastically impact the lives of those who are already struggling.
For the rest, there were a lot of excellent points raised, even by the more ‘neutral’ advisory submissions. I’ll finish this post with some of the more interesting excerpts I cam across, in no particular order.
For communities experiencing entrenched disadvantage, the CDC is one option to help combat this disadvantage, however it is not a panacea. An investment in job creation, particularly in regional areas of Australia, is needed over the long term to support those on the CDC to transition into meaningful economic participation.
Queensland Advocacy Inc:
Create jobs, not stigma … punitive and presumptive card … [t]he Card is a retrograde step, further eroding a system that already is frayed at the edges.
Law Council of Australia:
… questions of whether there is a rational connection between the cashless debit card and the harm it seeks to prevent, and whether it is a proportionate restriction on human rights …
Council of Single Mothers and their Children Victoria:
the Cashless Debit Card deviates from all the best evidence available in fields such as behavioural economics, behavioural change, addiction studies and public health, by exerting strong external power over not only an affected individuals income, and thereby, their ability to manage their lives, but that of a majority segment of a community
limitations placed on individuals’ ability to purchase certain items when using the card that would have no impact in reducing levels of harm associated with alcohol consumption, drug use and gambling
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples:
evaluations of the BasicsCard under the Stronger Futures measures have shown that the policy does not work, the CDC represents even more dictatorial measure in that it restricts a higher proportion of income
No evaluation has found that compulsory forms of income management have resulted in medium or long-term behavioural change at the individual or community level
And finally, I leave you with this enlightening quote from the sole submission for the Bill for this batch, from the Cape York Institute:
Any suggestion that the introduction of cashless debit cards, supported by local reformminded leaders, is worsening the situation or that the cards themselves can be causally linked to the suicide epidemic, is seriously misconceived.