CLAIMING A VICTORY AND EXAMINING THE LNP PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE 2017 CDC BILL. A LONG POST.

EXAMINING THE LNP PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE 2017 CDC BILL:

 

Here we take a look at the LNP’s proposed amendments circulated last week:

 

LNP : further amendment #1:

Basically this is saying , ” when we say X, and mean Goldfields,  we mean this particular  area, geographical point or bordered location, and no where else”, so, it is saying what areas will make up the area in target zone.  Areas not listed in this brief, are not being targeted. LNP refining terms and words.

1  Subsection 124PD(1)

REQUESTS PERMISSION TO “Insert” the following:

Ceduna area means Ceduna within the meaning of the Social Security (Administration) (Trial Area—Ceduna and Surrounding Region) Determination 2015 as in force on 15 March 2016 and includes the Surrounding Region (within the meaning of that determination as so in force).

East Kimberley area means East Kimberley within the meaning of the Social Security (Administration) (Trial Area—East Kimberley) Determination 2016 as in force on 26 April 2016 and includes the areas of each of the Included Communities (within the meaning of that determination as so in force).

Goldfields area means the following Local Government Areas as at 7 February 2018:

                     (a)  the Shire of Leonora;

                     (b)  the Shire of Laverton;

                     (c)  the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder;

                     (d)  the Shire of Coolgardie;

                     (e)  the Shire of Menzies.

Local Government Areas means areas designated by the Governor of Western Australia to be a city, town or shire, in accordance with the Local Government Act 1995 (WA).

 

 

LNP : further amendment #2:

This amendment would permit ‘sub zones’ to be formed within trial areas, where different rules for the trials could apply altogether. It could mean only certain payments etc are targeted within that zone,  similarly to how this  occurs now between actual sites,  like the difference between Goldfields and Hinkler,.  In misuse or ‘creative interpretation’  of this allowance, it could also permit full payment roll out in one half of a single town, limited roll outs in the other half base don voter preferences, payment type, political supporter base.

It also would empower in the case of a collective trial area such as the entire Hinkler Electorate, the Minister to target Hervey Bay within that Electorate,  but exclude Bundaberg. Fine if you trust your government entirely, not so good if you are a member of a party or group that is dissenting towards government. Without caveats, without any provisions to refer misuse to the crimes act,  this is just way to much power fore any one party to wield, and could CDC arrangements out on a specious or political basis with no active protection or provisional items contained within he Bill to stop them.

 

2  Subsection 124PD(1) (definition of trial area )

This is the part that explicitly nominates Goldfields as third CDC Trial region. The 2015 legislation uses ‘ trial area’ very ambiguously, so this refines that. Now the three discreet trial sites are NAMED formally in the CDC governing legislation.

 

Repeal the definition, substitute:

trial area means the following:

                     (a)  the Ceduna area;

                     (b)  the East Kimberley area;

                     (c)  the Goldfields area;

other than any part of such an area determined in an instrument under subsection (2).

 

 

LNP : further amendment #3:

This is the one we had a big issue with.

We needed to know, did  this omission and substitution as noted above, remove the cap or ‘limited’ nature of the number of trial site and number caps, nominated in the 2015 legislation and  does it expressly rescind and supersede the governments previous requests in the CDC2017Bill?

ie: Does it substitute the amendment request being made here that DOES seek to remove those caps or add on without changing that requested alteration: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=LEGISLATION;id=legislation%2Fbills%2Fr5939_first-reps%2F0001;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbills%2Fr5939_first-reps%2F0000%22;rec=0

That is where we got stuck trying to figure things out,  so we first went here to clarify what they were asing, then we tracked itg back to source:  http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ssa1999338/s124pf.html   we ended up here:  5  Subsection 124PF(2).

The section reads ”   (2)  The trial is to occur in up to 3 discrete trial areas.”  which means by this amendment, it will now read

   (2)  The trial is to occur in **THE** trial areas.

After all the running run around, we found that literally again, they are refining language. Fundamentally the initial 2017CDC Bill request  is not changing.

 

Subsection 124PD(2)

Repeal the subsection, substitute:

             (2)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, determine a part of an area for the purposes of the definition of trial area in subsection (1).

 

LNP : further amendment #4:

Paragraph 124PF(1)(b)

Omit “30 June 2018”, substitute “30 June 2019”.

This amendment extends the current trials until 2019, when they were lawfully scheduled to end this June 2018.

LNP : further amendment #5:

5  Subsection 124PF(2)

Omit “up to 3 discrete”, substitute “the”.

 

IN THE CURRENT BILL [ Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 .]

THE LNP WANTS TO CHANGE THE FOLLOWING ::

1. To change name of ” trial participants’  in legislation,  which on examination, is nonsensical change that made no difference whatsoever to the two section being listed on the brief. It’s wording that doesn’t change anything. A completely redundant cosmetic change, see below:

CURRENTLY THE BILL READS:

THIS: >>>>>   Subdivision A–Trial of cashless welfare arrangements

    • 124PF Trial of cashless welfare arrangements

  • 124PG Trial participants

 

PROPOSED LNP CHANGE WILL READ:

TO THIS: >>>>>>Subdivision A–T TRIAL PARTICIPANTS

    • 124PF Trial of cashless welfare arrangements

  • 124PG Trial participants

 

The real kicker was the second part:

THIS BIT >>>>>>2  Section 124PF <<<<

THE 2017 BILL wanted to  >>>>>Repeal the section<<<< THIS is the big one and refers to THIS section of the current usage of the CDC legislation(2015):

SOCIAL SECURITY (ADMINISTRATION) ACT 1999 – SECT 124PF Trial of cashless welfare arrangements

SOCIAL SECURITY (ADMINISTRATION) ACT 1999 – SECT 124PF

Trial of cashless welfare arrangements

Currently, this section states that

1:  The trial has to END in June 2018.

THIS WOULD GO AWAY WITH FIRST VERSION OF LNP AMENDMENTS ( CDCBILL2017)

2: It limits the  CDC trial to 3 discreet trial areas 

THIS WOULD  GO AWAY WITH FIRST VERSION OF LNP AMENDMENTS ( CDCBILL2017)

3: Says that no matter how many trial areas, NO MORE than 10K participants are allowed on the trial 

So the question then remained:

Do the “add on” amendments circulated by LNP this week (linked below),  and only made available to the public  the day after ALP announced its proposed amendments, make any difference?

What do they change from what is written in the paragraphs above?

We needed to know, do the amendments just equate to CDC BILL 2017 PLUS SOME or was it effectively, CDC Bill 201 NEW.

So we had to go back to  “Proposed amendments” : Paragraph 124PF(1)(b) Omit “30 June 2018”, substitute “30 June 2019”. ….and we started again.

We re-read every term and linked it to its concurrent Act sub section or header and we can say that , to our understanding (limited) of these NEW proposed amendments, and their changes, we are seeing that Government no longer appears to be requesting Section 124PF be repealed/scrubbed at all. Instead they appear to be seeking to ADJUST 124PF, to add a year onto the trial which is the same as the ALP request.

If we are correct, then in practice, what this new proposed amendment, by the LNP,  is to NOT remove the CURRENT limitation on the number of trial sites which under CURRENT legislation stands at 3.  It is also, not removing the limitation on the number of participants which stands at 10,000 people.

BUT: It does mean a 3rd site [ Almost certainly Goldfields as the budget has  already been approved by last years senate for this region and it would be unlikely to get a budget for Hinkler Electorate confirmed by a hostile Senate before June 2018 – the original end date of the 2015 legislation.]

What these proposed changes do not do!

ALP Amendment’s restrict government to a 2 site trial program deployment.  NO THIRD SITE. So the LNP’s further amendments do NOT stop a 3rd site.

While ALP’s amendments DO increase the trial duration for one more year to 2019 the same as the LNP’s further amendments  they  significantly alter the oversight  requirements and refine or define definitions for participation – they state clearly that the Secretary must, by legislative instrument, determine requirements (including procedural requirements) for how an agreement on trial roll out is reached. That means YOUR voice….and that means making it an OBLIGATION of government to provide protection for funding, and for families, in trial regions.

We will try to nut out ALP’s proposed amendments later for you but we wanted to explain LNP”s amendments now so people were more informed and hopefully, less confused and stressed.

While we are pretty certain we are reading it right, and please keep in mind, that all future outcomes depend still on LNP’s next moves – to withdraw or vote it through with further amendments/without futher amendments, we ask you to please not take our understandings as GOSPEL! We are NOT legislative policy researchers. This is a lay person reading only. Okay?

The bottom line is here though, that this all means the pressure we, you, NXT and ALP have put on LNP has forced them to backtrack and to propose these new amendments that no longer remove the limitations they had been hoping for. That is not small thing and if they do get it passed with those amendment sin palce, it means no more cart blanch powers as we feared, FOR NOW people..for now and that is still, IF LNP do not withdraw the Bill entirely.

Complelling them to propose new amendments, in itself,  compelling this massive step back, is a HUGE HUGE victory. Well done!! Pelase score the win! They want to use incremental policies, we’ll just have to get used to taking incremental victories right!!

We realise noneof this is any  help at all to stop a  Goldfields  roll out if  and however the Bill is passed or withdrawn, and now other than shining a light on information for them so they can know how the trial is MEANT to be conducted  so  to help fight it on the ground. We are not sure what we can do.

To our understanding Government needs a bill, for each new site, with a secure legislative instrument in place for YOU the community to access. So when you hear “legislative instrument” – think  “your pathway to changing HOW they roll it out” , if you do get steamrolled and lose your choice on the actual roll out itself. The wording of that instrument that is in place in legislation now,  is in the legislation2015 linked below.

By the use of Instrument, all current and projected  trials were already meant to be tailored for your best benefit, you were alos mean to be be included in DECISON making not just being informed about the card… but as you can see that process itself got usurped and manipulated. These trials are meant to be tailored BY YOU not just your “good community leaders” or the Dept.

You will need to resist cart blanch roll out or steam rolling in your area, and to force them to tailor the roll out, in such a way to be less hurtful to you, to more flexible and open to change an opt outs or stand upand fight it all together. Either way, we can support you in that process. Just inbox anytime.

As you can see by this mornings posts and Senate actvity, these instruments can be and ARE being abused and consent IS being manufactured all too easily…so if you plan to #resist them you need to the best of YOUR ability,  organize yourselves, get documents, read read reader, and then interview interview interview, discuss,  demand..ACT and #Keepgoing, even if it just one voice..or a thousand..resistance is FERTILE not futile. Know your arguments, know THEIR arguments and your counter arguments be prepared to be BRAVE.

Congratulations everyone for this not so minor victory…its not much but its ours:)

SNS2…and my poor long suffering housemate.

 

 

 

LINKS TO ALL RELEVANT READINGS :

Social Security Act: http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ssa1999338/  SEE PART 3D–TRIAL OF CASHLESS WELFARE ARRANGEMENTS ( 2015 Amendment Bill created this section)

Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015 : https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5520 ( This allowed the sites to come into being)

Memorandum: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2015B00134/Explanatory%20Memorandum/Text ( Explains the Amendment Bill above, but not really)

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5939 ( Further Amends the Amendment Bill 2015 and the Social Security Act)

2017 Explanatory memorandum : http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr5939_ems_92264413-4a31-47a1-bd6b-80a7cff8d04e%22

2017 ADD On to the Explanatory Memorandum: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr5939_ems_12f7b23e-5633-4b69-bf9f-7a59ff57e420%22

( Neither of the 2017 explanatory notes say offer simple terms  what is being amended and what real world impact that means for CL recipients).

LNP FURTHER AMENDMENTS to the 2017 Bill : http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Famend%2Fr5939_amend_eab1fb33-3604-4cab-bec2-78ae5d20259a%22

ALP FURTHER AMENDMENTS to the 2017 Bill : http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Famend%2Fr5939_amend_c5fba6d3-0d4d-411a-9be5-a20e0aac9215%22

FULL ARGUMENT TABLED @ CDC SENATE INQUIRY NOVEMBER 2nd 2017 CANBERRA ”THE REST OF US”

I WOULD LIKE TO ADDRESS THE COMMITTEE ON BEHALF OF ALL THOSE  WHO DO NOT MEET THE CDCT TARGET GROUP CRITERIA YET RECEIVE A CENTRELINK PAYMENT CURRENTLY ON THE CDC TRIGGER PAYMENTS LIST.

According to data provided in the Orima Research Group evaluation, in trial zones, this group of “participants” who do not meet target group criteria makes up 77% of the entire cohort currently on the CDCT*. In the event of wider roll outs, this could include up to 97%* of people currently accessing income support payments on the trigger list.

We would like to state from the outset, that the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has stated that the current trial program and the amendment bill before this committee, do not meet Human Rights Standards.

As noted in the Human Rights Council’s initial report in 2015, impositions upon Human Rights where they must exist, must be strictly qualified, they must be targeted for purpose and exist for a specified duration. Without these stipulations, and even with them, legislation can otherwise be considered an overreach of authority and be in breech of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Laws.

As we understand them, stipulations regarding human rights encroachments in the current CDC legislation are therefore, very specific to the context of a dedicated trial with a dedicated focus and end date. These impositions upon ordinarily protected rights have been justified solely due to the stated intention of the trial, being to address the alleged needs of the target group ie: people who are drug addicted, malignantly unemployed, alcoholic, problem gamblers, fiscally unmanaged or legally and socially delinquent and those persons intimately effected by people who are.

Yet we who do not meet that target group criteria, even those of us who share a centrelink payment with those that may, a group I will call for the sake of brevity ‘The Rest Of Us”, have never had the issue of our human rights addressed or assessed at all, and this unqualified impingement upon our rights and legal protections remains a topic strangely absent from the debate overall.

As a group, “The Rest Of Us” do not benefit from this card and are not assisted by this program or its services funding and the trials paternal intentions in any way. We are though, harmed by it, and bear the full cost, personally, economically and socially of the human rights infringements this legislation imposes.

There exists no qualifying Human Rights statement within the proposed amendment Bill, that is applicable to our life circumstances. We are just being expected to ‘cop it sweet’ that our legal rights are being dismissed and diminished, and our freedom within society curtailed for no apparent reason. Many of us have already had to bear public and private ridicule, abuse and increasing community scorn and resentment due to being unfairly labelled ‘rorters, bludgers, addicts and abusers’ by ministers in the media.

We have also had our status as previously unclassified and equal citizens of Australia, summarily altered without notice or debate; finding ourselves today reclassified by this legislation into a made up construct called ‘ the welfare class’. It is this reclassification of all centrelink recipients under this header that has permitted government to present the CDC to the public as a needs based call to action.

This new classification of ‘welfare class’ however, is a uniformed misnomer of the status of Centrelink recipients as a cohort within Australian society, as much as for “The Rest Of Us” as a group within it. We are not people who generally access social welfare services or require welfare agency interventions in our lives on a daily basis and when we do, these are self led temporary contacts.
While remaining empathetic to those centrelink recipients that do require more complex government and welfare agency supports, it remains that for “The Rest Of Us” , we have our own social supports that we access for and by ourselves without assistance or government interference.

This new classification then, in its collectivism, is demeaning and patronising. It’s blind inclusiveness appears dangerously misinformed and when used and abused by media, it openly vilifies the character of hundreds of thousands of every day Australians who are just simply making use of a government service.
In the roll out of the CDC, the Minister has not been making any economic rationale. In promoting issues of addiction, delinquency, criminality and social violence as justifications for the need for CDC roll outs as a national priority, the Minister has ignored our existence within the Centrelink recipient cohort completely, and has set about instead, engineering a public perception of what all social security recipients are “like” and what we collectively “need” based on the results of presumptive vilification rather than hard evidence.

These crafted perceptions are not flattering or supportive to anyone in receipt of centrelink payments, and they are certainly not justified by fact or supported by data.

This reclassification of millions of Australians, along with constant repetition in media that the trial is an act of paternal benevolence to the sick and injured ‘welfare class’, has been very useful to the department in gaining wider public agreement to enforce the CDC agenda. It is however, dishonest.

Centrelink recipients are as diverse as the rest of the population, and being in need of a centrelink payment does not auto equate to being in need of psychosocial welfare support or being a person who is morally or socially delinquent in any way.

“The Rest Of Us” are the ‘elephant in the room’, the unspoken collateral damage everyone expects will remain fearfully subservient; we are an embarrassing oversight in legislation, one that no one appears willing to address.

We ask this committee now, to please recognise “The Rest Of Us” as a distinct group within the centrelink recipient cohort, and we ask that you seriously consider the impact and imposition of this program on our lives, as equally as you would consider the impact for those that may meet the CDC’s target criteria.

This Bill demands that we quietly accept the restriction and forfeiture of our full and free access to human, economic, civil and privacy rights and protections; and do this without fuss, giving up our current level of freedom within our communities. It demands we permit government to take control over our lives. We are grown adults, we are Australians, and it is conceited and illogical to expect us to simply accept this demand without protest.

Social Security Payments, are a national, legally protected income support provision inalienable under law, available to any citizen meeting the Departments criteria and regardless of their social position or life circumstances. They are also an international Human Rights obligation under four separate conventions.

“Social welfare” is a collective term, and while Social Security payments are embraced under this umbrella, actual welfare service provisions are governed by separate Acts of parliament. Social Security payments have their own governing Act for a reason.

The Social Security Act does not presume to address, or to assume a persons wider social needs or circumstances beyond their need for income support – just as it should be in the delivery of a service that was designed from the beginning to promote the maintenance of individual human dignity and collective social stability.

Sanctioning “The Rest Of Us” via the use of forced income management devices, is punitively penalising us as citizens for simply accessing our legal entitlements. To instigate a program that actively presumes all centrelink recipients have the same problems is naive, to demand that we all be whipping boys for the choices, actions or inactions of a relatively minor few is inconsistent with reason and common sense. It is an unreasonable demand to make. Some people commit crimes in our society, we do not put all people into jails

By definition, to restrict an entire ‘class’ of people, from free access to the national cash economy is an act of segregation, which in itself is evidence of an ideological judgement at work, politics, rather than an evidence based research policy in action. And the CDC’s economic and social restrictions do segregate us as an entire “class” and do so regardless of life our individual circumstances and predominantly against our will.

They will also remove us from the full measure of Human Rights protection under law currently enjoyed by the rest of the Australian population. Worse, they do this from a base that presumes collective social delinquency and with no individual assessment that could provide justification to the claim.

This is wrong.

Our protected rights are not paper weights or, as they have been labelled by pro card activists, “horse manure”. They exist for purpose and represent the educated wisdom of the lived experience of our mistakes and failures over centuries. They are standards we do not walk past, secular boundaries we have set down for our societies based on our highest most informed moral awareness. More, they are articles of law, and this legislation remains subject to that law.

Given the CDC’s myopic focus on addiction and social welfare issues that has ignored “ The Rest Of Us” since the beginning, no one has been able yet to answer the question “Why us ?”

If we are all equal citizens under law in this country, then the “Rest of Us” , who are not being served by this program, and are being harmed by it, are simply being treated unequally and being penalised for no just cause. And to make matters worse, our personal autonomy; the primary vehicle we possess to aid us overcoming poverty and the social inequalities we do experience due to being on limited income, is being removed from us by force. This, despite the fact we have committed no crime in accessing Social Security payments, and we remain law abiding solvent tax paying citizens, compliant with the structure and expectations of the Social Security Act.

At this time, there is no statement within the current legislation or contained within the proposed amendment Bill, that actively addresses our situation or our human rights concerns ongoing. While we have until now, fallen loosely within the perimeters of the CDC human rights statement, given the structure of the CDC as a trial for purpose, with an end date. External to those perimeters, our rights will simply be impinged upon with no protection and no recourse.
So we ask this committee directly; Given the Ministers stated intention of the CDC program, and in light of the HRC’s statement that the CDC is incompatible with Human Rights Standards, under what justification will this government be permitted to impose forced income management upon “ The Rest Of Us” as a majority cohort, when legislation is in direct contravention of our human rights and anti-discrimination protections?

Until the government can satisfactorily answer this question and demonstrates under all relevant Acts how it can and will justify continued encroachment upon the protected rights of Australian citizens, then this bill should not proceed. Simply being a person in recipient of a centrelink payment, under existing Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination law is not enough.

Thank you.

 

————————-

Ap:

– Addiction itself is a health issue, not an income issue. In the case of illicit drug addiction it is also a national crime issue and certainly not a problem exclusive to the centrelink recipient cohort.

– Similarly, domestic violence and sexual abuse are crimes. They are a national social violence problems and issues of predominantly male violence against women and children. These are not experiences that can in any way be considered predetermined or qualified as being due to a persons access or lack of access to cash.

– Furthermore, for tough love to be useful and effective, and not just another form of abuse, it has to be metered out by people with intimate knowledge of the issues being faced and not by those who’s only power and evidence is opinion. Tough Love has to hit the intended target cleanly and stem from those with the authority of experience, from a position of equality, mutual respect and with the greatest comprehension of consequences possible. When ‘tough love’ is forced upon those who have no need for it, it is simply an act of violence.

– The “ welfare class” reclassification makes no needs based distinctions and because it ignores that there are distinctions that do need to be made if only for the efficient placement and expenditure of resources and energies, it is also dangerous and lazy.

 

* [above %’s edited to reflect current research ]

A NEW DEFINITION

Most Australians have a basic understanding and uncomfortable acceptance that a certain amount of pork barrelling goes on within political circles.

To define the term, “Pork barrel”  is  “…a metaphor for the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.  This form of political device helps attract campaign contributions and the support of local voters.”

Essentially, the pork barrel is considered the primary means for securing voter patronage, which in turn is the most effective strategy to win elections.

What happens though, when Pork Barreling moves beyond this electioneering context and is utilized instead as a strategic method for securing support for government policies and programs anathema to social justice and the National Interest?

In our investigation into the implementation processes of the Indue LTD Cashless Debit Card Trial [CDCT] in Ceduna South Australia, this was one of the first questions raised as we noted the abundance of new grants and other funding that had suddenly materialized in the area in the lead up to the card trial that began in March 2016.  This conveniently timed funding boom, was distinct from those funds allocated to local area service groups under the trial legislation’s  ‘wrap around services’ package designed to support the cards implementation processes. [ http://us12.campaign-archive1.com/?u=c84ee7f4e6537dd3525623995&id=17f0503c8f&e=d59220b280 ]

To date we have been able to trace amounts that exceed 50 million dollars, in Federal, State and other funding arriving into the Ceduna region following the decision by Ceduna District Council to take on the Indue LTD Card Trial.

During the period of  negotiations between government CDC teams and Ceduna officials as early as April 2015, concerns were raised by local residents and some service groups that threats were being made by officials to the effect that funding reductions could be a possibility should agreement to the demands for a card trial not be forthcoming. Complaints  were also made regarding several obvious conflicts of interests this funding was creating as regards the investments of Ceduna council friendly groups and businesses.

The issue of threats to reduce already skeletal funding to local services was never investigated and consumer complaints were dismissed out of hand by Council itself, or bushed aside as the petty concerns of angry alcoholics and “welfare bludgers” in local and national media.  Worse, given the federal Governments media mantra that the card’s primary purpose was to stop violence and alcoholism, those who rejected the imposition of this trial locally and raised legitimate concerns nationally, were further labeled as being closet supporters of child abuse, domestic violence and addiction.

As an example of early funding boosts, among the many projects we investigated, was a December 2015 decision by the Federal Government to fund a fish unloading facility in Ceduna, which had for eight years, recorded multiple unsuccessful attempts to gain Federal or State funding support.

Speaking shortly after the 2013 denial of this same funding,  somewhat ironically, the  District Council of Ceduna Mayor Allan Suter remarked to media  “It appears funding was taken from the regional process and put into campaigning in the Sydney Metro areas, which is another case of Government pork barrelling.” [ http://www.westcoastsentinel.com.au/story/1601085/ceduna-misses-out/ ]

This facility development project grant was conveniently granted $10 million dollars in funding in December 2015, $4.3 million of which extends from Round Two of the Australian Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund.

We also examined  over $8 million in Grant funding given to the community of Yalata,  a primary card trial site in the Ceduna catchment following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit in November 2016 [ http://www.westcoastsentinel.com.au/story/4305185/8-mill-for-yalata/ ]

Yalata Anangu School principal Bob Sim ecstatic at receiving a much needed $2.5 million share of the new funding pool, stated that this grant money would be used to build an early learning center for children up to the age of five, on the existing school grounds.  The remainder of Yalata grant pool to be be utilised on upgrades to infrastructure in the area including money for a caravan park, roadhouse and the area’s rubbish tip. As Mr Sim rightly declared in media,  “The effects from the grant would be felt throughout the community“.

Next we compared  Ceduna’s funding experience, with that of the community of Halls Creek,  [ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-06/halls-creek-aboriginal-advisory-committee-rejects-cashless-welf/6830742]  And as this article demonstrates,  immediately on refusal of the card trial by the Hall’s Creek community, government negotiation teams employed strong arm tactics in attempts to manipulate the community, including the threat to leave the community out of statewide reform funding.

Speaking to WA Today, ( Shire President Mr Edwards) said, “…regional development minister Terry Redman then flew in “out of the blue” and “made it clear that opposition to a trial … would strongly influence the level of investment made under WA’s largests ever redistribution of state and federal funding in the Kimberly and Pilbera – a funding pool worth $4.5 billion annually.” Mr Edwards further notes; “We took it from that discussion that unless the Shire accepted and supported a trial of the cashless debit card there would be a negative impact on service provision under the regional reform program,”  [ http://www.watoday.com.au/video-news/video-wa-news/wa-government-strongarms-halls-creek-on-cashless-welfare-shire-20151201-glbub3.html ]

In reply on questioning and in classic ‘newspeak’  minister Redman said “…. there was no plan to “take money away” from the shire, but when making funding decisions in relation to regional services reform, the government would focus on “investing in communities looking to move into a positive future”

We must be clear at this point, that we do not decry any remote or rural community taking all it can from variable funding opportunities, especially those 274 regional communities that were facing closure under the current government only weeks before  card trial negotiations began in Ceduna. [ http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/wa-government-backs-away-from-forced-remote-community-closures-20150507-ggw9xs.html#ixzz3lrnVtleg]    We are more than aware that these communities have quite literally been starved of services, resources and attention under the current government to the extent that ongoing viability of their towns and communities is in question.

In this regard, Ceduna is not a special case nor was it even a high priority case for federal funding, as other remote and rural communities across the nation were. Communities such as Whitegate, having had even their access to drinking water switched off, such has been the overall contempt, lack of interest and care for remote community health  and the overt government neglect of the remote regions communities as whole. [ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-15/protest-demands-water-solution-for-whitegate/5744654?pfmredir=sm]

We do empathise  greatly and can comprehend the urgency of need in some communities for access to Federal and State grant money, this is a given for us as a social justice group. What we cannot abide however, is the current sacrifice by some, of the lives, Human Rights and essential liberties of their fellow community members in order to achieve personal interest inspired funding objectives – expressively in Ceduna, given its comparatively healthy local economy, location and social demographic,  which means it had considerably less social problems than other locations and less need for Federal funding than any other remote area at the time of card trial negotiations.

We hold that to barter away the human rights of selected members of any community, for money, is as repugnant as the  government that would demand community leaders do so. To underscore this abuse, and attempt to achieve ideological or funding goals under the guise of supporting victims of crime, addiction or poverty when alternatives and documented evidentiary support exists to counter the current proposals,  is simply abhorrent and an abuse not just of power and postion, but of public trust in the process of our entire representative democracy.

The next thing our investigations noted,  was that these card trial negotiations in Ceduna were invisible ie: they were not independently overseen and were undertaken without community consultation or involvement. According to the transcript noted below, this consultation process continued for well over nine months and  existed “on many levels”. According to Mayor Suter’s own statement, they also took place with no involvement at all by the 950 targeted residents. [ See: Community Affairs Legislation Committee Friday 11th September 2015 pgs 60-65] –

On the one hand Australians nationwide were hearing from Alan Tudge in media about the ‘extensive community engagement and consultation processes underway’ in Ceduna, yet from the documented evidence presented to the Senate Estimates Committee  via On Notice questions – many of which are still as yet unanswered, it is clear that no such community consultation or decision making process ever took place.

It was only much later after the decision had already been made by Council to host the trial, that this consultative circle widened to include selected community groups now known as “regional leadership groups”  who’s inclusion was contingent on their approval of the card trial program.   One example of this being the Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation [CAC], whom we are informed, had exhausted  funding just prior to its selection for “community engagement”  and subsequently has now had funding renewed. According to State Parliamentary committee records, two more groups selected for inclusion at this stage also reported that they had no ongoing funding as July 1st 2015. The CAC itself, an organisation essential to maintaining any appearance of community support for the card trial in Ceduna, is still one of Alan Tudge’s most oft utilised star community consultant groups in press releases and speeches today.

Needless to say, groups or organisations opposed to the trial card, were not given any democratic access to decision making facilitators. They were given no representation, media voice or community placement in negotiations whatsoever.  No general consultation meetings were held, nothing resembling a community vote on the card trial was taken and submissions that were given to council that reflected opposition viewpoints or alternatives, while remaining on record, have in effect been ignored or negated to irrelevancy.

As regards the few public information meetings available to income recipients, residents were simply informed of the fait accompli and what this would mean for them. Therefore it is no surprise that this was not seen as an authentic consultative process by them, rather a soapbox or stage for Ceduna Councils decisions.  These meetings were duly rejected by the majority of income support recipients as “useless” as all the exceedingly important negotiations regarding choice, recipient concerns, alternatives, local funding choices,  viable projects, community needs assessments, risks assessments, card trial perimeters – essentially all decision making and deficit recording did not include them, or indeed any community groups or services from the get go.

ORIMA

The recently released Orima Research Interim Report* provides the following statistics, that cover a 12 month period from March 2016 to March 2-17 inclusive:

Of Participants : 49%  said the Cashless Debit Card Trial [CDCT]  had made their lives worse, 22% that it had made it better.
Of Family members of trial participants gave a similar pattern of answers 37%  and 27% respectively.
Of Non-participants : 46% said that the CDCT had made  life in their community better and 18% that it had made life worse.
Across both trial locations, just 25% of CDCT participants and 13% of their family members reported drinking alcohol less frequently since the Trial commenced.

In the Overview of Findings against KPIs section, the  report makes the qualifying statement that “All community leaders (members of regional leadership groups) who participated in the Wave 1 qualitative research were supportive of the CDCT” . Yet on page 6, the report also states that no community leadership groups participated in the trial evaluation – an evaluation  which we would assume would have included Wave 1 qualitative research? This apparent contradiction and other such ambiguities left unattended, had us a little perturbed  to say the least.

Statistics also provided on page 6 under the ‘Alcohol’ subheading, provided that  24% of CDCT participants and 28% of  CDCT participants’ family members reported that they had *noticed a reduction in the drinking of alcohol in their community* since the Trial started.   If you look again and the note the asterisk’s, you will also note one important feature. That while these figures themselves are quantitatively organised, it remains they are just a statistical  representation, of anecdotal evidence.  This same device is utilised throughout the report that when examined, make up a majority of the reported “data”.

It remains, that these statistics are simply a record of perceptions and observations, recorded in scientific-like  fashion,  and as such, are NOT applicable as authentic data sets when it comes to the deterministic evaluation of quantitative changes to literal consumption habits of individuals nor are they indicative of actual reductions of alcohol consumption in the community. They tell us nothing other than what people think they might or do see, with no way for any researcher to externally verify those observations whatsoever. They’re data-non-data. Graph fillers.

We found similar structural concerns and shortcuts or absences of data throughout the report, on every key issue, gambling**, crime***, sexual assault,  and family violence.
On gambling observations, where state trends & tourist season fluctuations impact variability extensively, these conditions were ignored and again, actual trial participant behaviors were either not recorded, or were recorded by third parties with no way to proof  validity.

More concerning were effusive statements made regarding crime statistics that for two paragraphs completely ignored the South Australian Police’s own expert data, to emotionally assert that crime had dropped in the Ceduna region, where it has already been irrefutably proven that this is simply not the case. **

This in itself sets a very dangerous precedent given the stated independence of this evaluation process, not just the use of effusive language in a deterministic trial evaluation report, but that expert data, as readily available to Orima research teams as it is to us,  is in such conflict with the report findings yet is in no conflict at all with the governments own press statements making the same unfounded statements regarding the extent of local crime.

If the intention of this trial evaluation, was to report on forced income management’s capacity to make non CDCT participants happy or to record peoples observations of the CDCT process, then we might take no issue with what has been reported as data.
However, the stated aims of the CDCT, is to document actual data regarding the actual habits of actual participants and to supply this information to the Australian Government and people, for comparative analysis.
As was the case  in the Ceduna Progress report released Oct 2016, instead we have found  a disturbing lack of critical evidence; we find intentionally obtuse and misleading statements regarding the information that was collected and again, a lack of authoritative essential data and objective reporting on that data as regards the actual outcomes and activity of actual CDCT participants themselves.

Importantly, less than one full page in this report speaks to negative impacts of the CDCT on the lives of trial participants and even now, despite complaints, the label ‘participant’ is still being utilised without any qualifier. This term which implies a choice existed where none in actuality did,  remains offensive to those forced through no fault of their own to comply with government demands to engage in the trial process under significant duress, for many, simply in order to continue to eat and live.

Yet despite evident research failures and the imbalance between the qualitative and quantitative data supplied; despite the abundant contradictions existent throughout the report and a general failure rate of 49-52% to improve quality of life for trial participants;  and in light of such a high stake holder and participant non-participation rate across the board, the Orima report concluding statement still states:

Given the absence of material changes in other influential factors and conditions, the positive short term impacts reported since the commencement of the CDCT appear likely to be largely attributable  to the Trial.

And therein lies the problem.

Firstly this statement makes a jugdement inconsistant with evaluation findings, and  ignores other  as-likely potential contributers to the stated outcomes,  such as the dozen or so easily envisaged reasons why a person may not drink or use their usual toxin of choice for a period of time,  or any other reason they may feel compelled to lie to a researcher, such as embarrassment or familial and social pressures being applied in situ. The latter has been noted as a serious concern in these very small and tight knit communities where threats have been made (sources verified) against individuals opposing the card publicly and privately to the extent people have had to leave trial regions in fear of their personal safety.

More importantly,  this ignores the extent to which Government manipulation in the trial process, via “pork barreling” grants to and for services and the alterations to the power balance of communities due to selective funding of certain interest groups has already  impacted the community. It also ignores how this funding has influenced the qualitative research data being supplied by key stakeholders ie: local businesses, social services and organizations dependent on trial associated funding themselves. As key Stakeholders are compelled only to provide qualitative data for this evaluation, the opportunity for attribution error,  for bias if not outright abuse of data reporting, is substantial and yet remains innominate within the reports concluding statements.

As you can see by the statements in our own opening paragraphs, the impact of this parallel funding is being felt throughout the entire community and region akin to rain breaking a long drought. This funding is now addressing many  basic social needs that have until now, gone unmet. There is simply no way given this intrusion of government funding to distinguish between benefits gained through restriction of capacity to purchase alcohol and gambling products, and the the benefits accrued that may be owed to a more congenial social environment within the communities affected, owing to selective funding effects.

If Alan Tudge and the CDCT teams thought that by narrowing the definition of this card trial and subsequent evaluation focus to an equation of one  ie: ‘does restricting access to alcohol restrict alcohol purchases’, was in any way clever, they were wrong.

If we were to take your car away, we can guarantee that if you have legs, you must then walk to your next destination, that is not evidence of success, that is merely statement of fact. Further, this does not prove we were correct to take your car away, or had the right to take it in the first place or that taking away your vehicle was useful to you.  All it does prove is that we could take it, and did.

This equation of one will not provide nearly enough information or hard data for wider community consideration in regards to determining the effectiveness of the card itself or when considering the wider implications of the imposition of this card program on larger communities or on a national scale. It will not begin to address the potential range of impacts of cash restricted Social Security payments much less their efficacy in addressing the consequences of alcohol over-consumption and violence in our communities.

What is very clear on examination of the KPI’s and trial framework alone, is  that the purpose of this trial and the current evaluation in process appear designed for one thing only – to manufacture consent, and in doing so, to ensure the national roll out of corporatised health and welfare in Australia, starting from the bottom up. The Texas sharpshooter fallacy at work in this entire process, is obvious, insulting and severely underestimates the intelligence of the Australian community at large.****

Throughout our investigations we have discussed the trials and card life reality on the ground with many Ceduna and Kununurra residents. One of the more frequent statements we have heard is  that ‘there is so much pork barreling going on’. Hence our investigations began and this article was initiated.

Today, and with respect to those residents, we must reject this statement outright, as what we have seen in the record and in investigations of the actions taken by the current government so far towards expediting this card pogrom, go well beyond this simply defined wheel greasing idiom and artifact of national governance.

When an entire class of Australian taxpaying citizen is utilized to circumvent due democratic processes for the benefit of a corporate agenda;

When the Privacy, Economic, Civil and Human Rights of forced participants are considered secondary concerns;

When  Anti Discrimination legislation that applies to all other classes of citizen in the nation is nullified through policy without question or challenge;

When the lives of our most vulnerable citizens are manipulated in order to establish a foundation for citizenship teiring and used as a fulcrum for ideological bastardry;

When entire communities and their duly elected officials can be held hostage and manipulated via grant hoarding or releases;
When fiscal apartheid is considered an acceptable means of budget containment;
And when the lives of five ‘participants’ lost due to suicide in despair at forced detoxification and loss of personal autonomy don’t even rate a mention in the only national report that concerns them; then its time we found a new word, because ‘pork barrel’ no longer suffices.

We need  a new idiom, one that encapsulates  exactly what it is that this government is doing, and we need it now.

– The Say NO Seven

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* Orima Wave 1 interim report : https://mhs.govcms.gov.au/sites/g/files/net1006/f/cdc-wave1-interim-evaluation-report.pdf

**The gambling data in Ceduna that shows that recorded observations of Ceduna gambling declines attributed in the Orima Interim Report seem to be in line with state-wide reductions in gambling.

Gambling revenue has fallen by 15% in SA over the 12 months to June: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/…/quarterly_statistics
It seems to have been falling over the past five years as well (take a look at the reports here: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/statistics/ ) In Ceduna, it has been on a downward trend at least since 2011/12: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/…/NetGamblingRevenuegroupedbyL… (could be longer, just haven’t checked the other years).
12/13: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/…/LGAcouncilstatistics1213.pdf
13/14: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/…/NetGamblingRevenuegroupedbyL… (same level as it is now).
14/15: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/…/LGAcouncilstatistics1415.pdf (increase on the previous year).
15/16: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/…/LGAcouncilstatistics1516.pdf

*** No Welfare Card Australia Police Crime Data tracking:

**** The Texas sharpshooter fallacy :  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_sharpshooter_fallacy

Why we oppose the Indue Ltd Cashless Debit Card

This is the post excerpt.

* Legislation governing the card trial removes Australian Citizens who have committed no crime, from full and equal protection under Anti-Discrimination Law and existing Human Rights legislation.This agreement to segregate income support recipients from the wider Australian community in this manner was not bought before the Australian people. In the current trials, the LNP have put in place the groundwork for a two tiered citizenship status based solely on income source; which is, and in the event of a nation wide card roll out will be, to have intentionally implemented a state of socioeconomic apartheid.

* We reject the notion it is acceptable in any way to force individuals to enter into financial relationships and/or legally binding third party contracts with corporate entities against their will, simply because they are receiving income support benefits.

* We reject the statement this card is ” Just like any other bank card” and make our concerns clear in our video ‘The Healthy Welfare Card Vol;3 Myth Busting : ” Its just like a regular bank debit card ”

* We reject the specious statements aired in press, that millions of lives will be “unaffected” or experience only ” minor inconvenience” when hit by a sudden and forced exclusion from the cash economy, from equality of participation within society, and the social, legal and personal costs of reductions in choice and in citizenship status.

* We reject the notion that the trial locations are a genuine representative sample of the lives and living conditions being faced by the total body of income support recipients across Australia [approximately five million citizens]. We hold that trial results can not be applied unilaterally outside of these trial locations’ unique geographic and micro-socal circumstances.

* We reject the use of unverified data and the welfare stereotypes and prejudices being expressed by Alan Tudge et al, in press and in parliament in order to sway political and public perception towards an antagonistic view of income support recipients. And we reject wholly, the unfounded and unsubstantiated presumption that all people receiving income support suffer from the same disease of alcoholism, or share in addictions, idleness and gambling obsessions. We further reject the assumption that we are all fiscally incompetent, uneducated or under-educated and/or morally and socially deficient in any way.

* We reject the notion that the privatisation of the currently nationalised Australian welfare payments system is in our National Interest; that handing the national welfare budget and payment systems to a private corporation closely affiliated to the current serving government, is anything other than an example of inter-generational political incompetency and stewardship failure. We hold that this attempt at privatisation of one of our largest government portfolio’s is part of a wider as yet undisclosed privatisation agenda and as such, it is and will be undermining to the present and future health and safety of those dependent upon these systems and all citizens who through taxation pay for them.

* We hold that it is inappropriate for a serving government minister and a local council to be currying favor in the press, on social media and in Parliament for further roll outs of the Indue LTD HWC where no independent study or review has been undertaken in either trial site and where full costings and modeling for the intended national roll out of the Indue LTD HWC card have yet to be offered publicly for debate. A situation only compounded given the personal costs being born by individual income recipients have not even been heard formally, let alone evaluated and while the easily estimated expected increase of over 11 billion dollars to the national welfare budget should the card roll out nationally has not been openly declared.

* We particularly reject the lies being told by Alan Tudge and the Ceduna Council in media and in Parliament regarding crime statistics and the percentages of “benefit” being credited to the HWC trial as these percentages are being used to foster in parliament and in the public at large the illusion the “card is working well”. We have proven these claims are false and that Mr Tudges statements are dangerously omissive and have made our proof publicly available for witness in our video “Special Edition” where we clearly show the figures quoted of a 30% decrease in legal contacts and use of alcohol related social services use is NOT owing to the card but to a further exclusion of the most vulnerable population from Ceduna’s town boundaries.