Release Date: 
31 August 2015

Topics: cashless debit card

BEN FORDHAM: Alan Tudge, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister is helping roll out this card, he’s on the line, good afternoon Alan.

ALAN TUDGE: Good afternoon Ben.

BEN FORDHAM: So pornography and smokes are OK to buy on the Healthy Welfare Card?

ALAN TUDGE: Yes. The ambition of the card is to reduce the welfare fuelled alcohol and drug abuse which causes so much havoc in some welfare communities. That’s our sole focus of this card.

What we’ll be doing, is that instead of putting everybody’s welfare payments into their ordinary savings account each fortnight, instead 80 per cent of their money will go into this special account which is only accessible via an ordinary Visa or MasterCard debit card and you’ll be able to use it anywhere and purchase whatever you like but it won’t work at the gambling houses and it won’t work at the liquor stores and you won’t be able to get cash out with it.

BEN FORDHAM: There are plenty of people who would put cigarettes and alcohol in the same category, but what you’re saying is that alcohol causes many more problems when it comes to the community and family violence?

ALAN TUDGE: Exactly. Our aim is to stop the social harm, or community harm if you like, which welfare can cause.

Now if you smoke a couple of packets of cigarettes, yes you’re going to kill yourself eventually and we don’t want people to smoke. But you don’t tend to become aggressive and violent and keep everybody awake at night by doing so.

Whereas in so many communities, if you’re drinking a slab of beer or taking drugs, then you may well be become violent and keep all the kids awake at night so they can’t go to school the next day.

That’s what we’re trying to target, that’s what we’re trying to minimise.

BEN FORDHAM: I know you’ve got a trial coming up in South Australia. Have you got any locations in New South Wales you’re going to be trialling it?

ALAN TUDGE: We haven’t yet but we’re speaking to a couple of communities to assess their preparedness to be part of that trial. We’ve always said at the get-go that we’d like to trial it in locations where there is a) some community support, and b) where there is high welfare fuelled alcohol, drug, and gambling abuse.

The trial site in Ceduna satisfies both of those. We’re in advanced discussions with one in Western Australia and there may well be one in New South Wales but we’re still in the early stages of the discussions.

BEN FORDHAM: Thanks for coming on Alan.

ALAN TUDGE: Thanks so much Ben.