25/01/09: NORTHERN TERRITORY INTERVENTION: CARD BUNGLE CAUSES HUNGER

Contents:
Basics Card Bungle
Intervention Opinion
Intervention News

BASICS CARD BUNGLE:

Media Releases:

Basics Card Bungle Causes Hunger
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/basics-card-bungle-causes-hunger-nt-intervention-welfare-quarantining
19 Jan 09: “All of Friday and late into Saturday night,
Aboriginal people under welfare quarantining in Alice
Springs were unable to access their money using the Basics
Card. This meant that anyone trying to buy food or drinks
and other goods were not able to do so, due to a “glitch”
in the Basics Card system. Many Aboriginal people, after
traveling (often on foot) to the supermarket to buy food
and a cool drink, the temperature being around 38 degrees,
were turned away at the checkout when their card refused to
work. Many people also travel from remote communities to
use the Basics Card. … The Intervention Rollback Action
Group is demanding Minister Jenny Macklin take
responsibility for the bungle. IRAG will take their demand
for an end to the NT Intervention directly to the Federal
Parliament during a protest convergence in Canberra on
Tuesday February 3.”

Greens: Government fails to provide for welfare quarantined families
http://rachel-siewert.greensmps.org.au/content/media-release/government-fails-provide-welfare-quarantined-families
20 Jan 09: “The Australian Greens said today the failure of
the Basics card system which left potentially thousands of
people unable to access money for food was yet another
example of the flawed approach of income quarantining. “It
is outrageous that families cannot get access to their
money in order to buy even basic groceries. Some people
travelled hundreds of kilometres to stores that allow use
of the card, only to find that the system was down and they
had no way of paying,” said Australian Greens Senator
Rachel Siewert. The Greens also criticised Centrelink for
their failure to provide for families unable to purchase
groceries over the weekend due to the system failure. …
“The Greens opposed the introduction of any kind of welfare
quarantining from the start. This is not the way to address
underlying causes of disadvantage in this country,” she
[Senator Siewert] concluded.”

Radio Interview:

ABC AM: Welfare payment glitch prompts calls to end income management
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2008/s2469674.htm
20 Jan 09: “Barbara Shaw and her sister-in-law from the
Mount Nancy town camp travelled into Alice Springs on
Friday afternoon to go shopping. Like many other Aboriginal
people living in the Northern Territory, Mrs Shaw has her
welfare payments quarantined. Half her money goes onto a
card which she can use only to buy groceries and other
essentials at selected shops. But on Friday afternoon the
BasicsCard stopped working.”

News:

NIT: Bungle leaves Aboriginal people hungry: activist
http://www.nit.com.au/story.aspx?id=16851
20 Jan 09: “Some Aboriginal people across the Northern
Territory were unable to buy food or other essentials over
the weekend because of a “glitch” in the income management
(IM) system. Angry residents are now calling on federal
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to take
responsibility for the bungle. … Centrelink general
manager Hank Jongen on Monday admitted there had been an
“outage of the system”, which prevented transactions from
being processed. … Protesters plan to converge on
Canberra for the start of the parliamentary year to demand
an end to the income management system.”

NIT: Macklin must ensure welfare bungle never happens again: Law Society
http://www.nit.com.au/breakingnews/story.aspx?id=16859
20 Jan 09: “The federal government must reassure Aborigines
there won’t be a repeat of a welfare bungle that left some
people without food and other essentials, the Northern
Territory Law Society says. A hardware malfunction
prevented Indigenous people from using their BasicsCards to
purchase goods over the weekend. … NT Law Society
president Duncan McConnel on Tuesday called on federal
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to promise
indigenous Territorians there would be no future
disruptions.”

ABC: Govt urged to make back-up plan for failed BasicsCard
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/20/2470414.htm
20 Jan 09: “The Northern Territory’s Law Society says the
Federal Government should be prepared to guarantee payments
to stores if the income management store card system fails
again. Indigenous people in the NT and remote WA were
unable to buy food for 12 hours last week when Centrelink’s
BasicsCard system experienced computer problems. There have
been reports that full shopping trolleys had to be left at
check-outs because of the problem. About thirty welfare
recipients at Darwin’s Bagot Community were hit by the
glitch.”

ABC Darwin: Welfare quaranting glitch reported in Alice Springs
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/19/2469419.htm?site=darwin
19 Jan 09: “An Alice Springs town camp resident says she
has been told some people on welfare were left unable to
buy essential items on the weekend. Barbara Shaw from the
Mount Nancy camp says people told her there was a problem
with the bank which holds funds tied to the BasicsCard. …
Mrs Shaw says she is concerned the problem wasn’t isolated.”

ABC Alice Springs: Welfare quarantining made me feel like a scab: pensioner
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/21/2471061.htm?site=alicesprings
21 Jan 09: “A 73-year-old pensioner from Central Australia
says he feels like a ‘scab’ because his $1,000 bonus from
the Federal Government has been quarantined. Russell
Clifford works and receives welfare payments, but his
welfare money is quarantined because he lives in the Finke
Community, a prescribed area under the Federal
Intervention. Mr Clifford’s disappointment comes amid anger
over a 12 hour technical fault with the BasicsCard system
last weekend which prevented residents in other communities
from accessing their money.”

INTERVENTION OPINION:

GLW: A town like Alice: alcohol and the Intervention
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40165
17 Jan 09: “The immense relief we felt when the new Kevin
Rudd Labor government made the wonderful apology to
Aboriginal Australians soon after taking office was
misplaced. Rudd and the new minister for Indigenous affairs,
Jenny Macklin, are extending the Intervention. They are not
in a hurry to restore the Racial Discrimination Act. …
There is no doubt that for those who have real alcohol
dependency problems, the choices are very limited. There
are no rehabilitation units or help to lure people away
from alcohol, just prohibition.” Sue Gilbey

Socialist Alternative: The intervention was never about helping aborigines
http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1893&Itemid=125
Jan 09: “The answer is that the intervention was never
intended to help Aborigines; it’s there to drive people off
the land they have lived on for thousands of years and into
towns like Alice Springs and Mount Isa. These towns aren’t
being given any funds to deal with increases in population,
and the dispossessed are now being subjected to
unbelievable racism and barbarism, all so the mining
companies can keep making profits unhindered.”
Jacob Carswell-Doherty reports from the NT town of Utopia

INTERVENTION NEWS:

GLW: Demanding justice for Aboriginal Australia
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40185
18 Jan 09: “The following is abridged from a call for a
convergence in Canberra on the opening day of federal
parliament, February 3, to say ‘no’ to racism and demand
justice for Aboriginal Australia. … ”

GLW: Peace walk for Aboriginal rights
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40166
17 Jan 09: “Aboriginal activists launched a “peace walk” on
January 9 from Sydney to the steps of Parliament House in
Canberra in protest against the continuation of the NT
intervention and the mining of nuclear materials on
Aboriginal land — policies that they label “Rudd’s betrayal
of Aboriginal people”. … The activists are calling for an
end to the NT intervention, which began under the previous
Howard government and placed many Aboriginal people living
there under a “welfare quarantine” system.”

GLW: CDEP under attack from ALP
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40169
17 Jan 09: “The Federal Labor government has decided to
push ahead with major changes to Indigenous welfare despite
outrage from affected Aboriginal communities. On December
19, Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin announced
that Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) would
be abolished in all non-remote areas. This will
significantly affect rural and regional communities,
forcing participants to join the ranks of the unemployed.
… The reforms to CDEP, where it is retained, will also
include the requirement for participants to move cities to
accept jobs. These changes will give the government the
power to force Aboriginal people off their land.”

Australian: No job, no house must be the rule for Aboriginal communities: minister
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24914445-5013871,00.html
15 Jan 09: “HOUSING should not be provided to remote
Aboriginal communities where there are no jobs and people
are unable to pay rent or service a mortgage, says former
Labor minister Gary Johns. In a paper to be released today
by the Menzies Research Centre, Dr Johns argues that money
spent on remote community housing has been “generous and
well-targeted” but has resulted in wrecked houses and
dependent communities.”

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