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Greens in Senate oppose Stronger Futures, vote against Bankstown income management trial

Commenting on the Stronger Futures legislation that passed the Senate last night on the combined vote of Labor and the Coalition, Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon said there was insufficient evidence to support extending the government’s controversial income management trial to Bankstown. 

The Greens tried to vote down the legislation, then tried to remove income management from the bill, but did not receive the support of the other parties. 

The Social Security Amendment Bill 2011, which is now law, facilitates a trial of the Northern Territory’s compulsory income management system in five pilot locations around Australia, including Bankstown. 

“As NSW is the only state that has done a deal with the Commonwealth to allow compulsory income management, Premier O’Farrell has failed the people of Bankstown,” said Senator Rhiannon. 

“A growing, diverse and vocal community at Bankstown have said no to being singled out for this failed policy and the government will face a difficult time implementing it. 

“Only 66 shops in Bankstown are authorised to accept a BasicsCard, leaving out markets and many smaller speciality stores, such as Halal and Vietnamese stores.  

“The Queensland government would only authorise income management on a voluntary basis and the South Australian and Victorian governments are yet to reach an agreement with the Commonwealth.

Senator Rhiannon in the debate gave details of the growing community opposition to the Income Management policy. More than 50 groups have voiced their opposition to the policy that is increasingly viewed as discriminatory, punitive and top down.  “Forcing people to use a bright green card to spend half of their income support payments at select stores is demeaning and paternalistic.

“Evidence to the Senate Inquiry into Stronger Futures shows that income management was not discussed with communities at the five trial sites. 

“A Menzies School of Health report, based on quantitative data in the NT, found income management had no positive effect on limiting tobacco and soft drink sales and boosting fruit and vegetable purchases.  

“It is shameful that the legislation giving income management the go ahead in Bankstown was shunted through in a late night sitting barely two days before the trial is due to begin in NSW”, said Senator Rhiannon. 

Lee Rhiannon will attend a community vigil being held in Bankstown to protest the start of the income management trial in Bankstown.8:30am, Monday 2 July 2012Outside the Bankstown Centrelink office.

Contact: 0487 350 880

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