‘Misinformation and scare campaigns’: The rumoured plan to extend the cashless welfare card to pensioners explained

Apr 23, 2022
The Cashless Welfare Card "looks and works like a normal bank debit card". Source: Getty Images.

Cashless welfare cards have become a contentious issue during the 2022 election campaign, particularly after rumours arose of a proposed expansion of the debit cards to include pensioners.

The issue came to the fore after claims were made by the Labor party that the Coalition plans to expand the cashless welfare card to pensioners. In the seat of Longman, a pamphlet has been circulating claiming the Coalition will “expand the cashless welfare card to include all aged pensioners”, as reported by The Courier-Mail. Longman Labor candidate Rebecca Fanning has also taken to social media to claim “Palmer, Morrison and Hanson want to tell Australian pensioners how they can spend their money”.

Similar claims have been made by other Labor politicians in the seats such as Lilley and Flinders. Labor has promised to remove the cashless debit card if it’s elected in 2022. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has highlighted a quote from Senator Anne Ruston in 2020 as the basis for Labor’s concerns, when she claimed the government was “seeking to put all income management on the universal platform which is the cashless debit card”.

During an interview with ABC Adelaide on Wednesday April 20, Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said there were “no plans whatsoever” to extend the cashless welfare card to pensioners

“I can absolutely guarantee that to you. This campaign that has been run by the Labor Party, is an absolute lie. They know it’s a lie, and I can absolutely guarantee you, that under a Coalition Government, there will never be a plan to force aged pensioners onto the Cashless Debit Card,” she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also slammed the claims, stating Labor are “trying to frighten pensions”.

“That’s just an out and out lie and it’s been pushed around on social media and I have no doubt they’re calling pensioners homes and telling them this and trying to frighten them,” he said.

National Seniors’ Chief Advocate Ian Henschke weighed in on the “misinformation and scare campaigns” that have dominated the current election cycle, claiming the suggestion that pensioners will be forced onto the Cashless Welfare Card “seems to keep reanimating like a zombie”.

“What older people want during this election is to hear how politicians will make the lives of older people better,” he said.

According to Services Australia the Cashless Welfare Card “looks and works like a normal bank debit card. You can’t use it to buy alcohol, gamble, or get cash out”.

Those receiving payments will still receive their full payment, however, the payment is broken into two installments with one going to the recipient’s nominated bank account and the second installment going to the Cashless Welfare Card.

The card can be used to pay bills, organise direct debits, shop online and can be used at over one million EFTPOS terminals around the country.

If you’re receiving the JobSeeker payment you will be issued the card, those on the age pension can also volunteer to receive the card if they wish to do so.

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