3AW Melbourne with Tom Elliott

Release Date: 
5 August 2015

Topics: cashless debit card

TOM ELLIOTT: Joining us on the line, the architect of cashless welfare, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, good evening.

ALAN TUDGE: G'day Tom.

TOM ELLIOTT: So you're about to launch the cashless welfare card in Ceduna. Is this just a trial or is this part of a bigger rollout?

ALAN TUDGE: No this is just a trial. We've got Andrew Forrest's recommendation to it and we decided that we would trial the concept in two or three locations around Australia. Today we signed an agreement with the leadership group in Ceduna to trial it here the beginning of next year.

TOM ELLIOTT: Will this apply to all people in Ceduna?

ALAN TUDGE: Yeah, to all people on income support payments. So there will be about 1000 people who will be covered, about two-thirds indigenous, one-third non-indigenous.

TOM ELLIOTT: I remember driving through Ceduna a long time ago and there's a lot of dope smoking surfers who just live in caravans and tents and things. Are they the sorts of things that will be getting these cashless welfare cards?

ALAN TUDGE: If they're on an income support payment they will be receiving this cashless debit card. In essence what it is, is it'll be a Visa or an EFTPOS debit card, it will work everywhere, you can purchase whatever you like, but it just won't work at the bottle shop and it won't work at the gambling houses, and because your cash is limited you obviously can't purchase illicit substances either.

TOM ELLIOTT: Is there a risk and I think we've discussed this before that people might develop a black market with the cards and sell a card with a face value of say, $100 for $50 to go and buy something they shouldn't?

ALAN TUDGE: There's certainly that risk and we'll be doing what we can to stamp that out but you'll never stamp all of it out. The analogy which I always raise when people raise this with me is when alcohol restrictions were introduced, typically in more remote places. Now you can't stop all of the grog runners, but at the same time you nearly always halve the amount of assaults and violence overnight when you introduce those alcohol restrictions. I think the same thing will happen here.

TOM ELLIOTT: Final question, what proportion of someone's welfare payment is going to be placed on the card? Is it all, half? What is it?

ALAN TUDGE: No it'll be 80 per cent.

TOM ELLIOTT: 80 per cent, ok.

ALAN TUDGE: 20 per cent will continue to go into their normal bank account, and 80 per cent will go into an account which is only accessible with this Visa debit card.

TOM ELLIOTT: Alan Tudge, thank you very much, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.