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Greens lash Forrest's welfare card push

by
August 10, 2017

The Greens say Andrew Forrest is using scare tactics in his push for cashless welfare cards.

Billionaire businessman Andrew Forrest has been accused of using shock tactics to scare people into supporting cashless welfare cards.

Mr Forrest has joined Western Australian indigenous and community leaders calling for the cards to be rapidly expanded, releasing a graphic video depicting welfare-fuelled violence and sexual abuse across the state.

He said opponents of the cards, including the Greens, were covering themselves in shame.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the mining magnate was using the same tactics as the Howard government in 2007 over the Northern Territory intervention and so-called "Basics Card".

"Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works," she said.

"We should stop wasting money on income management-style approaches and start looking at real solutions that work."

The cards quarantine 80 per cent of welfare payments, which cannot be used to buy alcohol or gamble but can be used to pay for housing, food, clothing, household supplies and essentials.

The remaining 20 per cent of a welfare payment is placed in a person's regular bank account and can be withdrawn as cash.

A recent review of two trials - the East Kimberley in WA and Ceduna in South Australia - found the cards had been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling.

The federal government will continue the trials and is looking for two more pilot sites.

Labor human services spokeswoman Linda Burney said the video circulated by Mr Forrest and supporters of cashless welfare cards was shocking.

But the opposition will not be making any decisions until the results of the first two trials are clear.

"It should not be the case that people and children are fearful to go home," Ms Burney said on Thursday.

"Of course it had an impact but Labor's position, as I said, is that we are waiting to see the evaluation which I'm told is imminent."

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