The Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA) is dissatisfied by the Senate's decision to allow the Federal Government’s punitive Cashless Debit Card (CDC) to be trialled for a further two years in the Northern Territory.

Wednesday’s evening's Senate decision to continue the trial for the CDC legislation has come as a blow for Northern Territorians as this will sadly only extend the anxiety experienced by welfare recipients that this legislation could still affect them by further quarantining of their payments in the future.

Although we are pleased that the Senate has rejected the Federal Government’s plans to make the CDC Scheme compulsory for recipients, and instead a voluntary system, we are disappointed at the outcome overall.

Community Services General Manager, Liam Flanagan, says it’s unfortunate that a last-minute amendment to the legislation has thrown the Australian Government a lifeline to continue to push this discriminatory scheme.

“We don’t believe the trial is a good thing and we would prefer that the Cashless Debit Card did not come to the Northern Territory at all. It takes away people’s choices and freedoms about how they live their lives. The amendments to this bill last night show that the Government was forced to admit that there is no evidence to support the Cashless Debit Card as an ongoing measure. There has been evaluation after evaluation is done, none of them have been able to provide any real evidence that the program works.”

Deputy Chairman Micky Wunungmurra says he’s disappointed the Senate failed to reject the Cashless Debit Card Legislation fully.

“I don’t understand why we have extended the trial for the Cashless Debit Card for another two years. The Government keep wanting to back something that is detrimental for Yolngu and Balanda people’s lives.”

“Why are they gathering more evidence over the next two years? We know it doesn’t work and we don’t want it. This is just Government extending time and making people worry for longer.”

“I thank the senators who showed their support and did reject the permanent measures, but we are still disappointed it’s gone through with amendments to extend the trails for two years.”

The Scheme will now mean further taxpayers money is spent on trialing not one, but two, income management systems in the NT, the other being the Basics Card.

Mr Flanagan says it’ll be incredibly confusing for people to have both the CDC and Basics Card running in parallel as well as being expensive and complicated for the Government to successfully administer.

“Our view is that the Federal Government will make it very hard for people who are on the Basics Card, whether that’s reducing the level of resourcing or support for the card, making it much harder for people to stay on it long term, making it harder to process exemptions and access support.”

ALPA will continue to oppose this legislation and we thank the Senators who have voted against this bill.

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