Human Services Minister Alan Tudge shows what the cashless welfare card will look like.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge shows what the cashless welfare card will look like. Amanda Coop

I'm sorry but I just can't support a cashless benefits card

I'M SORRY but I just can't support a cashless benefits card.

To simply say everyone who receives Centrelink benefits must be a poor parent, alcoholic, drug user or all three and therefore must have what they buy strictly controlled by the Government is simply wrong.

As a self-funded retiree I shouldn't care, after all what difference does it make to me?

I have a friend who, at the age of 62 and after working for the same company for 20 years was placed on an employment contract.

They told him it was the way of the world and he would be better off. He took them on their word - bad mistake.

At the end of the first 12 month contract they informed him his position was redundant and his contract would not be renewed.

As he was on a contract no redundancy was payable, he was simply out of work.

Even at age 63 he thought he would have no problems getting a new job, after all he had worked all of his life and proven himself to be a good employee.

Rather than going to Centrelink for help he lived off his meagre savings to support himself and his wife but after 12 months and no sign of any work he was forced to go to Centrelink.

He was now 64, too old to work (according to most companies) and too young to get an Old Age pension.

The past 12 months had taken a toll and he required counselling for depression.

Going to Centrelink was humiliating for him and although the staff were helpful and supporting he now found himself on a New Start allowance of less than $700 per fortnight.

All he has left is his dignity. At this point very few people know he is on a benefit. His only splurge is one carton of beer a fortnight.

He is afraid that if a cashless card is introduced everyone will know he is unemployed and on benefits. His depression with that thought is palatable.

A cashless card would be beneficial for some people, of that there is no doubt.

I believe anyone who is on a Centrelink benefit and is convicted of a drug or alcohol related offence should be placed into a cashless card system to help them overcome their problems.

As far as parenting goes a bad parent will always be a bad parent regardless of what you do. That is a very sad fact of life.

The vast majority of parents who are on a Centrelink benefit do the right thing for their children to say otherwise would be scandalous and arrogant.

To make everyone go to a cashless card is a bit like saying, "Let's discriminate against a large group of people so that a small group of people don't feel like they are being discriminated against."

If a cashless card needs to be introduced then it must be a targeted introduction, not a broad brush approach.

Alan Betteridge, Tinana.



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