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Jason Bryce - Business & Finance Specialist



Healthy Welfare Card hangs in the balance

Will parliament pass Tony Abbott's cashless welfare card for parents and the unemployed?

By Jason Bryce | 9PM 19 August 2015




2015 Healthy Welfare reforms

News Limited newspapers report that

Labor has already decided to vote for the laws


Contrary to media reports, Labor has not yet decided whether to support the government's Healthy Welfare Card plans. The Greens are expected to oppose the Healthy Welfare Card laws.

Singlemum.com.au can reveal that Labor's spokesperson for Social Services, Jenny Macklin, is denying reports in News Limited newspapers that Labor has already decided to vote for the laws.

Jenny's office told us today that Labor hasn't made a decision yet on the controversial laws which were introduced to parliament today, Wednesday 19 August.

Tony Abbott's Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Healthy Welfare Card project is Liberal MP Alan Tudge. Tudge said 10,000 working-age people will compulsorily placed on the 80 per cent cashless Centrelink Visa debit card in the first three trial communities.

The branded payment card will be linked to a Centrelink Healthy Welfare account and prevent recipients buying alcohol or making gambling related transactions. Account holders will get balance notifications to their phone when they make a purchase over $10 and will be able to manage their Healthy Welfare account via a mobile phone app.

Alan Tudge said Healthy Welfare Cards will have very limited cash withdrawals
Liberal MP Alan Tudge.

Alan Tudge said all working age income support recipients in the trial communities will have their payments controlled and have be issued with a Centrelink Healthy Welfare Visa Card.

Aged pensioners and other people may volunteer to opt-in to get a card.

The laws introduced to parliament today allow for trials in three communities - Ceduna in South Australia, East Kimberley in Western Australia and another unnamed community.

The third community was to be Moree in NSW but local opposition has stopped the trial. A replacement community has not yet been announced. The Australian reported that the government is looking for a largely non-indigenous town or suburb.

Previously Alan Tudge has said that the Centrelink Healthy Welfare Visa Card will be rolled out to communities, suburbs and cities across Australia.

This new card is not just for addicts, alcoholics and people with budgeting problems. Alan Tudge has previously confirmed that all parents, unemployed people and other income recipients can expect to be income managed.

Alan Tudge said he has been working closely with the banks and that the card will look "as much as possible" like an ordinary bank-issued debit card that "most people carry in their pocket".

The laws need Labor's support to pass the senate and overcome resistance from The Greens.

The current Basics Card
The current Basics Card

Jenny Macklin's media officer told www.singlemum.com.au today that media reports that Labor was supporting the Healthy Welfare laws are not correct.

"Jenny is looking at the legislation that was tabled today and hasn't made any decision yet.

"Jenny wants to consult with community leaders in the trial sites, take a while to consult and work through it," said the media spokesperson.

Labor did support and extend the Howard Government's Basics Card income management project. The Basics Card works at selected retailers only and is not accepted by most merchants.

The new Centrelink Healthy Welfare Visa Card will be accepted by most shops and online.

Alan Tudge said: "Eighty per cent of payments will be placed on the card."

The rest will go to the recipient's ordinary existing bank account.

Alan Tudge denies that this system is income management.

"This proposal is not income management," he said.

"There will be complete freedom," said Alan Tudge "With the exception of two restricted products."

Yes, paying with a card will be an initial inconvenience for some people, said Alan Tudge, but he wants us to consider the potential upside of a transformed community where women are safer and there's more money for kids.

The Healthy Welfare Card now faces critical House of Representatives and Senate votes. There will be stiff opposition but Labor is expected to eventually support the laws.

In any case, everyone can agree with Alan Tudge that this is a radical new approach to welfare in Australia.

Jason Bryce
Business & Finance Journalist





Read more recent articles on the Healthy Welfare Card


First trial towns for Healthy Welfare card announced

Single parent poll results - Centrelink income management

Single parent anger over Centrelink income management

New Centrelink Eftpos card to replace Basics Card



Have your say on this story - do you think the new Healthy Welfare card is fair? Make a comment below!



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Jason is a business and finance journalist with 20 years experience, and is also a member of the SingleMum.com.au Expert Opinion Panel. He has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Mail (Brisbane) and writes regularly for the Business Daily section of the Herald Sun in Melbourne and many other newspapers and magazines.

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What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the

kids

are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.

Centrelink

plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a

divorce

or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

Please remember the bigger font words,because we will use it often in our website.