Federal Labor MP Justine Elliot told Parliament on Thursday that the government had plans to force pensioners onto the cashless welfare card after the next federal election, but social services minister Anne Rushton has denied this was the case.
The cashless debit card program, which has been forced on some people in regional communities, places 80 per cent of a person’s welfare payments on a card that cannot be used to withdraw cash or buy alcohol or gambling products.
In her speech to the House of Representatives, Ms Elliot said the government planned on making the cashless welfare card universal and would limit what pensioners could spend their money on.
“I rise to condemn the Morrison government’s plans to expand the cashless welfare card for all pensioners,” Ms Elliot said. “Pensioners right across the country know this prime minister wants to expand it and force all pensioners onto the card.
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“This unfair plan will put 80 per cent of their pension on a card that will limit what they can spend and where they can spend it.
“Pensioners know that under the Liberals and Nationals everything will change. They will soon have to say goodbye to the roast dinner at their clubs and their pubs, they won’t be able to take out cash to buy birthday presents for their grandchildren or presents for Christmas for them. Even buying a simple lotto ticket will be banned. This is insulting, it is demeaning and it is wrong.”
Ms Elliot said the changes would come because it was all part of the Morrison government’s continuing plans to privatise welfare.
“We know it is the Morrison government’s plan because they keep on talking about making it universal,” Ms Elliot said. “Pensioners have a right to be very anxious because the Morrison government is currently working with the banks to roll it out across the country.
“Australians should not have their spending controlled by the government. Labor stands with our pensioners, and we will scrap the cashless welfare card because we know pensioners should not be forced onto the nasty, unfair scheme.”
Ms Ruston responded directly to one of Ms Elliot’s Facebook posts, claiming that she was “spreading lies and simply fearmongering”.
“The government has publicly ruled out ever requiring age pensioners to use the cashless debit card,” Ms Ruston replied. “Please check the facts before your next misinformed social media rant.”
Council of the Ageing (COTA) chief executive Ian Yates told The New Daily he was confident the government had no plans to move pensioners onto the cashless welfare cards.
“COTA would not support such a move but does not believe there is any plan or intention to do so,” he said.
Who do you believe? Do you think the government has plans to move all welfare payments, including those for age pensioners? Do you believe the government will continue to exclude pensioners from the scheme? What do you think of the scheme overall? Do you support it? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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