New intervention laws

Issue 

The federal Labor government passed the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act) bill on June 21 — exactly three years after the Northern Territory intervention was launched by the Howard-Coalition government.

Welfare quarantining:

• Will be extended to include about 20,000 people in the NT, starting from July 1;

• Can be applied to young people on Centrelink payments, people who have been on unemployment or parenting benefits for more than a year, or people referred by family services;

• Places 50% of recipients’ income onto a Basics Card, which can be used only on approved goods;

• Basics Cards can be used only in shops that accept them — but Basics Cards signage has been seen in Sydney and Geelong;

• Can be extended beyond the NT after one year to any area that the families and community services minister deems “disadvantaged”;

• Costs $4400 per person to implement — eight times the amount spent on helping a jobseeker find work.

The onus will be on the person affected to prove they can manage their own income in order to be exempt.

The reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, which this policy is meant to allow, will not happen until December, Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin said on June 22.