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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) a radical system First tonight we look at more control over who gets welfare designed to give Centrelink and how they use it. Depending on your point of view, is a sensible strategy the new BasicsCard to protect the most vulnerable on the rights of individuals. or an outrageous Government attack As Damien Hansen reports, or a welfare revolt. it could be a welfare revolution to give us all the card. As of next year, they're trying What? For money? Nah, nah, nah. Forget that. Australia is becoming a nanna state. They can punch this. It's no good! Boot it off! We're on the pension, mate. is a PIN-protected card VOICEOVER: The BasicsCard your income managed money. that lets you spend It's Big Brother at the ATM. A $120 million social experiment at the cash register, rolling out at our shopping centres, targeting our most vulnerable - the elderly. the unemployed, the sick, I think it's a card of shame. who don't deserve it. It shames and humiliates people in every which way they can. They're trying to control us give us, like, one of them...? Mate, why don't they just down and bend over now. I might as well just pull my pants could soon control are not happy. And the people this card I'm telling you, If they bring this in, there will be riots everywhere. Basic rights! ALL: (CHANT) Basic rights! BasicsCard to buy things you need VOICEOVER: You can use the such as food, clothes. is an income-management scheme The BasicsCard to blacklisted Centrelink recipients which dictates their benefits on. what they can and can't spend to purchase alcohol, You cannot use your BasicsCard pornography, tobacco or tobacco products, or home brew concentrate, home-brew kits or gift cards or vouchers. gambling products or services, implemented in five locations - Income Management is being Bankstown in New South Wales, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, Playford in South Australia and Shepparton in Victoria. in a shopping centre in Bankstown. We found this BasicsCard kiosk The Government aims to stop people tobacco and gambling. spending their payments on alcohol, Services and Indigenous Affairs The Minister for Families, Community Jenny Macklin. that we see food put on the table It is a helpful tool to make sure and people's rent being paid. Who'll be put on the scheme? who hasn't been paying their rent, For example, someone who's in danger of being evicted. I think it's much better rather than get evicted, rather than losing their child. somebody getting the BasicsCard What is the track record in Australia? of income-management systems is that it's worked. What we found in Western Australia to get their finances in order, People have been able on the table, make sure that they get food pay their bills that they can actually and that's the purpose of it. I'm devastated. I'm not giving my money up! are both on the Disability Pension. Jamie and Roxanne Beveridge for the fight of their lives. They're preparing If I'm a drinker, which I'm not, a cask of wine, big deal. but say I was and I wanted $6, $7 a week? I mean... and our electricity's paid, As long as our rent's paid to spend the money we should be entitled on whatever we choose to spend it on as long as it's not on drugs. to the club? How often do you come down which is very often. Mate, whenever I can, on job seeker benefits We found 37-year-old Stuart Holt at his local club. drinking and playing pool Mate, we go looking for work. every single day, look for work. I go down to Centrelink Go through the newspapers and that. They don't know what they're doing. They've got nothing. all I want is salvation. So when I come here, But that salvation might be sunk. of two packs of smokes a week Stuart's habit at the local club and two beers a day on the BasicsCard black list. could see him You can't do that. I am angry. I'm pissed off. what to do, hey? Never ever tell somebody and that's it. This is the land of the free to the BasicsCard, When I first went on I was like, "What's this crap?" I can't touch it. My money's been locked away. for Income Management in Perth. But Le Ann Platz volunteered of $568 a fortnight She's had her Newstart Allowance filtered through her BasicsCard. stopped that compulsive spending Then I started to realise it's where I really didn't need to do it. It's been great for the budget. everything started running smooth. Once I got into a routine, I had heaps of food in the house. rent was covered Bills were getting covered, really well. and everything was running doesn't work and that's the issue. We know that Income Management and from speaking to everyone We know from all the research buy better food that it doesn't actually help them and look after themselves better. of Woodville Community Services Social worker and executive officer Pam Batkin is fighting the social reforms as part of the coalition I also have a concern in this country that once your over 18 you have a right to gamble you have a right to buy alcohol, to look at pornography. and you indeed have the right treat adults like children. But these cards that welfare is their money, We have a psyche in Australia free money to go get. We have to change the psyche. a step in the direction. Now, this goes This exists that won't break out of the cycle. because there are some people supports the card. But 2UE talkback host James Morrison can't be trusted with their money. He says some in the community simply is an assistance from the taxpayer. What's they're getting here It's not free money for jam to do as you wish with. and it's not there so that's, what, $12 a day I smoke a pack a day and that's a lot of money. welcomes the intervention. But Vanessa Fiedler her deadly habit. It might help her quit If it stops me from buying cigarettes, yeah. It's just one more incentive, I suppose, yeah. When they go on the BasicsCard, they BasicsCard has a machine like an ATM and it's only carried by the major chains. So that when you go to purchase your essentials, you have to line up in a BasicsCard line and then you have to swipe your card. Bankstown resident and activist Rebecca Darwiche is concerned with the effect the BasicsCard will have on local businesses. People are going to going to be forced to shop at the major chains. Business is already hard enough as it is. We're going to see local businesses going bankrupt. Income Management was introduced by the Howard government in 2007 into the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities amid great protest. It was passed, justified as an emergency measure claimed to be protecting Aboriginal children. It's since been hailed a disaster by the ombudsman in a recent report. It is going to be a waste of everyone's time. Instead of helping people, we're going to have to work with them to help them overcome the shame and the further difficulties that this BasicsCard will bring into their lives. It took time to adjust but now I'm a sole believer in it. We shouldn't be put on a card and told what to do with our money. If you are at the stage where Government has recognised that the only way they are going to get you off welfare is to start intervening in your life, the you should be having a look at yourself, It's a tricky issue for the Government, obviously trying to ensure the welfare of children who rely on the payments their parents receive. But is this taking things too far? Let us know. Is the BasicsCard a good way to manage welfare? Have your say by going to our website or let us know on Facebook and Twitter. We'll have a look at your thoughts a bit later.