Today, I introduced legislation to authorise a trial of the Centrelink Cashless Debit Card into the House of Representatives.
The trial will operate in up to three trial sites, limited to 10,000 people and is aimed at reducing the welfare-fuelled alcohol, drug and gambling abuse that plagues some communities in Australia.
Under the trial, 80 per cent of a person's social security payments will be placed into a recipient's Centrelink debit card account. The remaining 20 per cent cash will be placed into a recipient's existing bank account.
The Centrelink Cashless Debit Card will be able to be used anywhere for the purchase of anything, except for alcohol and gambling products. Further, because cash will not be available from the card, illicit substances will not be able to be purchased.
All working age income support recipients within a trial site will be part of the trial and receive the card. Aged pensioners and workers may volunteer to opt-in.
Government has been working closely with communities on the ground co-designing the parameters of the trial.
Locations will be included via legislative instrument after deep consultation. Ceduna was the first trial site announced for the trial.
A key group of leaders in the Ceduna region called the Ceduna Community Heads Group, have boldly called for this reform saying;
We want to build a future for our younger generation to aspire to and believe we cannot do this if our families are caught up in the destructive cycle of alcohol or drugs that destroys our culture, our lands and our communities.
At the heart of this reform, is a change that is being shaped specifically to meet our local needs. It has been a true collaboration to ensure that we can give our mob and our Communities every chance to create real and genuine change in their lives.
We have grasped this initiative; we have helped shape this initiative; and we are confident that this initiative is for the betterment of all people within our region.
When community leaders stand up and call for reform to better their community, governments should listen and that is exactly what we are doing.
If passed, the trial will commence in the first quarter of 2016.