— About 2600 young people were forced onto income management from July 1. — 50% of their payment is withheld and credited to a BasicsCard that can be used only at specific stores. — Income management affects people living in the NT, Bankstown in New South Wales; Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland; Playford in South Australia; and Shepparton in Victoria. *** Young people are being targeted under the federal government’s income management scheme.
In 2006, Alternet's Joshua Holland coined the “zombie lie”: an untruth that returns from the dead to haunt us, despite already being demolished by arguments and evidence. Politics is dominated by zombie lies. “Asylum seekers are 'queue jumpers' arriving here illegally” is a classic example. Over the past few decades, zombie lies have helped legitimise paternalistic, punitive welfare reforms. They still shape debates about how to treat poor and unemployed Australians.
In the early hours of June 29, the Australian Senate passed legislation that is expected to entrench assimilation, disadvantage and racism for another decade in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal leaders across the NT declared a period of mourning after the new laws – called Stronger Futures – were passed as they reel from the decision, take stock and plan to up the ante in their fight against the latest neoliberal assault on their communities.
July 1 is the new financial year and the start of many new government policies. This year, the carbon and mining taxes, and expansion of income management, or welfare quarantining, to five new locations. People receiving Centrelink payments and living in Playford in South Australia, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, Greater Shepparton in Victoria, and Bankstown in NSW may be subject to the new system. The carbon and mining taxes have generated hysterical debate, but the extension of income management has been noticeably underreported.
The controversial introduction of income management to Playford in northern Adelaide was the subject of a thought-provoking and at times emotional community meeting hosted by Socialist Alliance on June 13. A sizeable turnout of locals, including individuals from Anglicare, Uniting Care and the Playford City Council, discussed how this policy, to be “trialled” from July 1, will impact on the wellbeing of those on Centrelink payments and the broader community, and how people should respond.
Clients at the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre heard on April 29 that people in disadvantaged areas, such as Fairfield, could have their welfare benefits "quarantined" as early as next year. The public meeting at the centre featured Peter Davidson from the Australian Council of Social Services and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr people’s walk-off in the Northern Territory. The walk-off began in July 2009, protesting against the effects of welfare quarantining, and other NT intervention measures, in the community of Ampilatwatja.