SYDNEY, Australia – Australia trialled its cashless debit card in a few regions across the country previously, but issuance of the card is going to stop at the moment.
Anne Ruston, the Social Service minister, said that the issuance of the government’s cashless debit card would stop in the immediate future. She said that on Wednesday alone, there are already around 300,000 of new claims for the social security payments. According to Ms Ruston, those new claimants have to take precedence.
The minister said that the absolute priority of the government at the moment is to make sure that they can provide the financial support access to all eligible Australians. She stated that it’s necessary to provide this much-needed relief to the citizens, especially as the country faces the devastating impacts of the spreading coronavirus.
According to Ms Ruston, the Australian government is staying committed to offering its cashless debit card. However, she stated that the challenging times at the moment calls for them to make the most challenging decisions, hence, stopping the issuance of debit cards.
The card applies to all Australian people in Ceduna region, Goldfields region, and the East Kimberley who are receiving working-age wages. The program doesn’t automatically involve recipients of Veterans’ Pension and Age Pension. However, they may volunteer to go on the scheme. Other people earning wages from other sources, including paid work, can also volunteer for the cashless debit card.
Meanwhile, the cashless program in the Hervey Bay region and Bundaberg applies to every citizen who is 35 years old and under and are Newstart Allowance recipients. Those who are receiving partnered Parenting Payment, single Parenting Payment and Job Seek Youth Allowance are part of the program. No other people can volunteer to be part of the program.
Temporary residents in the country are not automatically placed in the cashless debit card but may opt to be part of the program, except for those in the Hervey Bay region and Bundaberg.
The trials for the cashless debit card started in 2016, which started distribution around remote South Australia, Ceduna, and in Western Australia, particularly in the East Kimberley region. Later, the government also introduced the card trial in the Hervey Bay region and Bundaberg in Queensland and the WA goldfields.
The cashless debit card from the Australian government is only usable for doing approved businesses. It prevents users from purchasing alcohol or gambling.
But, with the influx of new benefit applicants in the country, new welfare recipients will not be forced to get the cashless debit cards at the moment. Australians who are already part of the program will remain eligible to use the debit card, but the government halted the pause button in accepting new applicants under the scheme.
However, the Greens senator, Rachel Siewart, commented that it would be unfair for those who are already under the program to continue using the cashless debit cards. She said that there are still several issues with the card’s trial sites. The problems remain unaddressed for a couple of years now, she said. The senator expressed her fears that people under the trial program will be ignored, especially with the ongoing crisis.
A recent study took a closer look at the program, with results suggesting that the scheme is doing more hard than good to Australian people. The analysis showed people using the card are facing issues when paying their bills or buying goods. Some are also experiencing financial difficulties due to the fees related to making purchases using the card.
Meanwhile, the spreading coronavirus continues to impact the country negatively. An Australian man marks the ninth death case in Queensland to die from CVOID-19. Based on reports, the man was infected with the virus inside a cruise ship in Sydney. A statement from the Queensland Health reported that the 68-year-old Toowoomba man had a severe underlying health condition before getting infected by the virus. Meanwhile, the man’s family are further staying in isolation.
The recent death due to COVID-19 marks the second one in Queensland following the 77-year-old woman who died in Sydney earlier in March.
As of this afternoon, there are 2,252 recorded cases of the virus in Australia, including 1,029 in New South Wales and 466 in Victoria.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined sets of restrictions on Tuesday evening to help combat the spread of the virus outbreak. Among the banned or closed businesses include both licensed and registered clubs, night clubs, casinos, pubs, hotels, entertainment venues, outdoor and indoor markets, arcades, and amusement parks. Shopping centres, pharmacies, and medical centres remained open, while there are restrictions on hairdressers, cafes, restaurants, personal training, boot camps, funerals, weddings, and visits to other houses.
Sending children to school is still safe, according to the federal government, at least until the end of the term. However, the government advised schools to offer a mix of in-school and distance-learning when they reopen following the term break.
But right now, Australians are preparing for the second stage of the restrictions due to the virus on midnight. There are also clear indications that Victoria will start rolling out much tougher third stage of restraints much earlier than other states.
Under the new rules to help curb the spread of the virus, weddings are allowed but only to five people and ten people for funerals. The restriction will also halt auctions and open home inspections, close leisure centres, beauty salons, and food courts in shopping centres. It also applies on non-urgent elective surgeries until further notice effective midnight. The delay will also include all operations under category three.
The Australian Prime Minister said that the only urgent surgeries in the category one and two are allowed in both private and public hospitals. Operations under category one include cancer and cardiac surgery and childbirth.
Mr Morrison also put bans in place for all overseas travels and said that extended family parties and gatherings should stop.
With the recent travel bans, Virgin Australia already cut its domestic network flying by 90% and laid off 8,000 of its workers temporarily. Meanwhile, both Virgin Australia and Qantas are to bring stranded Australians back in the country.