Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, Sydney – Week 7 – Murphy’s Law in Canberra? Maybe

Wesley Goh

While it is not often that governments implement policies that create a positive impact on society, you’re bound to strike jackpot at least once when you have unlimited tries at the slot machine.

This week the Federal government continued to roll out the cashless welfare card program which seeks to mitigate harmful spending habits of welfare recipients. The cashless welfare card program prevents welfare recipients from making cash withdrawals and purchasing ‘harmful’ goods such as alcohol, confining its use to the purchase of sustenance goods.

This imposes high barriers for welfare recipients to seek out harmful activities such as drinking and gambling keeping them in line with the principal purpose of the handout which is to enable the downtrodden to get back up on their feet. It is a tool to regain the individual ability for self-determination that progresses towards staving off welfare completely.

This policy, of course, isn’t without its criticisms. As an economics undergraduate myself we learn that rational self-interest will dictate the actions of gambling addicts and alcoholics. They will most certainly derive a greater utility from their habits than the consumption of sustenance goods, thus they will seek out products in supermarkets that will fetch the highest value when sold in a secondary market or a “black market” in order to ascertain the cash needed to fuel their desires. Contrarians have also claimed that the cashless welfare card system micromanages the finances of welfare recipients, stripping them of privacy and making their lives harder.

While these are valid criticisms, we do not live in a utopia and policies that are a half step in the right direction are better than none. What is important is that the cashless card system keeps welfare recipients in line with the purpose of the handout. It reminds them that the help extended isn’t an entitlement but a gesture of good citizenry to aid them back to their feet.

One of the best parts about living in Sydney is that it is always brimming with activities, things to do and sights to see. This week I got to see the highly acclaimed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical which re-kindled the joy of an 11-year-old in me whenever the Oompa Loompas break into a song and dance. Musicals are truly a magical and spectacular wonder!