Senate debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020


Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Bill 2020; In Committee

10:12 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

This amendment seeks to make the transition from the income management scheme in the Northern Territory, from the BasicsCard to the cashless debit card, a voluntary scheme. It will allow those people who are currently on the BasicsCard in the Northern Territory who wish to transition to the cashless debit card to do so as a voluntary scheme. If they choose to remain on the BasicsCard they will also be able to do that.

The reason that the government has chosen to proceed with this is because we believe that when people in the Northern Territory are given the option of the advanced technology that is provided by the cashless debit card that they will actually choose to take up this technology. In a sign of commitment to this and the belief that this technology has improved, we are happy for the people—

Honourable senators interjecting—

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: I'm sorry, Minister, please resume your seat. If I can't hear the minister then I'm sure others can't as well. Can we have some order, please?

We firmly believe that the cashless debit card will enable participants to have the opportunity to choose the enhanced functionality and the increased flexibility that is offered by the cashless debit card. That is on the basis that currently the income management system of the BasicsCard allows participants to be able to transact at around only 16,000 terminals, whereas the cashless debit card provides them with the opportunity to make transactions at over 900,000 terminals around Australia. It enables them to use online purchasing. In fact, they can use their card wherever an EFTPOS terminal exists, and the only things that they will be restricted from being able to get access to when using this particular card will be alcohol, gambling products, some gift cards and cash.


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