The government will today introduce legislation to expand the cashless welfare card to two new locations around Australia, following a 12-month trial in the regional areas of Ceduna in South Australia and Kununurra in Western Australia. While the new areas for the card are set to be announced in the next few weeks, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge says the card has helped reduce alcohol abuse in communities where it is in effect.
Australia has gone through a few different iterations of cards that restrict the spending money of those on welfare -- and one man has been in the middle of the push since 2014: mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest. His lobbying is intensely personal and goes back years through his philanthropic Minderoo Foundation. So where did Forrest's influence on this policy area start, and how did it get here?
August 2014: Forrest delivers the Creating Parity report into indigenous employment and welfare reforms after being commissioned by then-PM Tony Abbott. His report recommends a card that quarantines welfare payments to be rolled out nationally, which went well beyond the brief for the report, which was supposed to look at ways to "create parity between Indigenous and other Australians". The government had already been using compulsory income management in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory since 2007, and in 2012 had introduced trials of voluntary income management in other regional areas in Australia like Bankstown and Shepparton. He told the ABC when the report was released: