Correspondence with government: DSS & Alan Tudge

I finally received a response from DSS (due originally within 3 days) after a month of waiting on 18 May. In response to questions about how whitelist/blocklist is constructed, DSS explains that individual welfare recipients have to seek to have merchants added to the whitelist by Indue- a particularly impractical suggestion when there are millions of merchants that card holders may wish to spend money with both in Australia and globally. This highlights the impracticality and discriminatory operation of the system on people who have done no wrong but will have removed from them the right to make simple purchases.

The government response also completely ignores the question I asked about welfare recipients’ transaction history being shared with government which was confirmed by Indue in their email to me received on May 5. You can read the DSS reply here.

 

Despite past assurances that income management would not be rolled out across the country, it seems that the government has been moving full steam ahead to replace the targeted income management Basics Card to an indiscriminate centrally controlled system called cashless welfare which creates a whitelist and an exclusion list of online and offline merchants to be applied to anyone in receipt of just about any welfare payment other than Age Pension.


There is much that can be said against this system, not the least of which is the complete lunacy of trying to list every business or organisation nationally and globally that the government has decided a welfare recipient may or may not transact with. There is also a long list of other rights removed from welfare recipients forced onto these cards (listed in my correspondence below). Do take a look and try to reconcile yourself with removing these commonly held rights from people for no reason other than that they are poor. Contrast this, if you will, with the difficulties middle class people have managing their own expenses paying childcare or purchasing a home without income support and the first home buyer grant and ask yourself why it is that if the government needs to save welfare dollars it is starting with the poorest of the poor instead of middle class welfare?

Allan Tudge & DSS

Dear Sir/Madam,

The page providing information on the workings of the cashless welfare card at: https://www.dss.gov.au/families-and-children/programmes-services/welfare-conditionality/cashless-debit-card-trial-overview  states that: “The cashless debit card looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash.” Can you please list the ways in which the cashless debit card functions differently from other bank cards?


Specifically can you list whether or not the cashless welfare cards allows the following normal bank card functions:

* joint banking;

* the ability to pay down other credit cards;

* the ability to earn interest;

* the ability to set up direct debits;

* chargeback rights provided with normal bank card purchases.


If these services are prohibited to people forced onto the cashless welfare card (including people with disabilities, carers or the unemployed) can you explain how this is consistent with the claim that the card works like a ‘normal bank card’?


If these services are prohibited to people forced onto the cashless welfare card can you explain how it is that this is of benefit to these individuals?  Can you please explain how the whitelist and exclusion list is constructed. In particular, can you please list all the processes by which a business is placed on the white list or exclusion list.


Are businesses or other organisations able to decide they do not want to serve welfare recipients by placing themselves on the Indue exclusion list?


Are Indue card holders able to transact using the card with organisations (political parties, not for profit organisations, merchants) that are not on either the whitelist or exclusion list?


The Basics Card is a form of income management targeted to people deemed to be in need of income management. Why has it been replaced by a blanket application of income management to people who have no demonstrated need for income management?


thank you Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)

 

Indue

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to you with questions based on the document at https://indue.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Conditions-of-Use.pdf Why do you not pay interest on the funds kept on Indue cards? How was the list of restrictions you impose on card holders drawn up?


These restrictions include:

* refusal to pay interest on savings;

* preventing joint banking;

* refusing the ability to pay down other credit cards;

* refusing the ability to set up direct debits;

* refusing chargeback rights provided with normal bank card purchases;

* construction of merchant whitelist/exclusion list.


Who were the stakeholders in the decision making process to create the above list of punishments and where is the documentation to provide accountability to the public about how this list was developed?


Can you please list the datasets that you share with other organisations and the organisations that you share this data with?


Why do you collect information about taxi rides taken by people using your debit card? What information do you collect about journeys taken by card holders?


Why are Indue account holders required to provide you with ‘external account information’?


Is it the case that you supply card holder transaction history with the Commonwealth Government? (p64)


What is the name of the ‘overseas service provider’ that you share card holder information with? (p65) What data does the Indue DCT App collect? (p71)


thank you for your time Rosie Williams BA (Sociology) whistleblower.network

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