Aug 17, 2017

A brief history of Twiggy Forrest’s obsession with cashless welfare

How exactly did a mining magnate come to spearhead the program to shift indigenous Australians onto cashless welfare?

Sally Whyte — Political reporter

Sally Whyte

Political reporter

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?

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16 thoughts on “A brief history of Twiggy Forrest’s obsession with cashless welfare

  1. John Newton

    Could someone at Crikey please initiate an investigation into the reality behind the success of failure of this card? Which would include what other measures could or should be or have been taken to avert the crisis in the remote communities.

    Like, for example, encouraging local indigenous businesses and employment.

    So far all I’ve read is bluster on one side or the other.

  2. Chris Days

    Simplistic solutions kick the problem down the road for another few years – and to another government.

  3. old greybearded one

    Twiggy the blackfellas’ friend eh? The one who was as best I can see bribing a rival Aboriginal lands group to get Fortescue a better deal. The federal court said no, but the great philanthropist is off to appeal. Twiggy is about one thing only. Twiggy.

  4. [email protected]

    The card is being called for by indigenous women’s groups across the country, to provide some respite from violence, sexual abuse, and alcoholism. Will it solve all the problems in these communities? No, but when a bit of respite is being called for by women’s groups so they can create some breathing space for other interventions to have a chance, it takes a quite a bit of self-absorbed arrogance to say “no, you don’t know what’s good for you, but we do”.

  5. mikeb

    It’s a tough one. If I had an alcoholic kid I’d try everything to get them into detox away from the grog. Just throwing money at the problem certainly doesn’t seem to be helping.

    1. MAC TEZ

      People in these communities have many problems and are doing it tough .
      Forrest’s attitude towards paying tax means there’s very little money being thrown about and punitive, simplistic solutions to complex issues are just as likely to create more crimes than they solve. He’s a particularly
      privileged prick on a P.R. campaign.

  6. AR

    Would I be burning a bridge too far to suggest that this cash-quarantine is a test run for the inevitable (in a workpoor robo society in the near future) UBI?
    Meanwhile, Forrest is a mendacious magnate whose only concern is his bottom line.
    Perhaps not quite as explicit as Rhinohide’s $2pd workers but when will he advocate indentured labour?

  7. klewso

    Just because the present system isn’t working doesn’t mean by-passing elders and community leaders (by another route) to impose other white-fella measures is the right way to go either.
    Governments still insist on withdrawing services from remote areas they’re attached to (arguing economics), leave these people on their own, stripped of those services, then expect them to cope?
    I don’t think another double serve of half-baked, skewed patronising is necessarily the way to go – as much as it might benefit Forrest.

  8. MAC TEZ

    Can Crikey find another pic of Andrew For-me-first-and-foremost rather than the P.R. pic of him in flouro,just put him up is his preferred three piece suit. The prick’s never held a shovel that wasn’t part of a photo-op.

  9. Shane Tremble

    So if the initiative is supported by a mega-rich mining magnate it must be bad?
    It’s also supported by Professor Marcia Langton and East Kimberley Indigenous leaders like Ian Trust.

    1. MAC TEZ

      Not at all, a bad initiative is a bad initiative whoever happens to support it. Other Indigenous leaders don’t support it and Forrest has form in not delivering on promises… like the 50,000 jobs fiasco that Langton also supported(in her role as a board member of the AEC).

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