Cashless welfare, crime data and parliamentary inquiries

I finally got notification from the Senate Committee that they have formally accepted my submission – after the Inquiry into the Cashless Debit Card Bill has already concluded! The problem with such long delays in formal acceptance of Inquiry submissions is that in order to be accepted as evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, submitters are told not to publish or share our submissions. The idea here is that submissions can contain information or claims which results in legal action being taken against submission authors and that this threat is mitigated by parliamentary privilege which only comes into effect after a submission is formally accepted by inquiry committees.

These protections are put in place so that people can provide evidence to inquiries without fearing reprisals of the nature meted out to Andie Fox after her piece was published by Fairfax. When people do make credible accusations against other parties in submissions to parliamentary inquiries, the Committee then asks for a response from the other party and the accusing submission is delayed until the response is received and the two are then published together. I expect this is why publication of my CensusFail Submission was delayed and published along with a confidential submission very close to the close of the Inquiry into the 2016 Census.

However such long prohibitions on publishing policy positions on parliamentary inquiries have obvious consequences for transparency and activism for individuals and groups who may want to share submissions with the media or other individuals or groups. Delaying the acceptance of submissions until Inquiries have closed has an impact on their effectiveness in terms of public education.

There are comparatively few named submissions in this inquiry (at time of writing) compared to un-named and confidential submissions and this is likely a direct result of what happened with Andy Fox and robo-debt issue.

I am told my submission will be published at the Inquiry site tomorrow (November 30) however as it has been formally accepted by the Committee I have made it available at the home page of the crime data project that the cashless debit card has inspired.

In the submission I use crime data to illustrate that the QLD regions pegged for blanket income management beginning in 2018 do not reflect the crime rates or social harms that the government is using to justify the breach of the human right to privacy, family and self determination.

In addition to the averaging of all Districts and Divisions on all offences available at the QLD home page, these QPS boundaries can also be ranked on individual offence types eg Breach Domestic Violence Order. Click on the menu button in the site header to reveal the functionality.

It is important to take into consideration the impact of small populations on crime rates as they are calculated based on a per 100k head of population for areas which vary widely in population. For QPS Divisions with small populations this has an exaggerating effect on their rates of crime. Compare the (averaged) monthly crime rates above with the (averaged) actual monthly incident figures below.

 

If you visit the linked pages you will notice there is little overlap between the Districts & Divisions with the highest crime rates and those with the highest actual numbers because the areas which generate the highest rates are often those with the lowest populations and which also have the lowest actual rates of crime. Crime rates are actually better for comparing the same area over time than comparing between different areas but these considerations are rarely noted in media stories.

There may be differences between the new and bigger project (used above) and the figures quoted in my submission as those quoted in the submission (still at the old site) are calculated for only 2016 whereas I changed the algorithms for new and bigger project created averages across all available years (beginning in 1997).

The QLD arm of the project also hosts a searchable implementation of the Indue approved merchants to give people some idea of what it is like for people who are forced onto blanket income management to have to make all of their purchasing choices from a list of less than 2,000 merchants worldwide.

 

In other news, I finally received a response to some enquiries I put to South Australian MLC Kelly Vincent who wrote on my behalf to Minister Alan Tudge regarding private rental options for people forced onto Indue’s cashless welfare card. I wrote to Kelly Vincent as she is a strong advocate against the card. You can read Alan Tudge’s response below

211117 From Federal Minister for Human Services re Cashless Debit Card

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