The Turnbull government has moved one step closer to trialing one of Tony Abbott's pet policies: the cashless welfare card.
Myles Morgan

16 Sep 2015 - 5:36 PM  UPDATED 16 Sep 2015 - 6:59 PM


Natalie Ahmat: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his new ministry will be sworn in on Monday, about a week after he toppled Tony Abbott.

There's a question mark over Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

While negotiations continue, the government has also moved a step closer to trialling one of Tony Abbott's pet policies: the cashless welfare card.

Myles Morgan reports.

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Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the first step to trialling the cashless welfare card was taken.

It didn't sound like much, but that means we're about halfway towards allowing a trial of the welfare card in communities with significant Aboriginal populations.

Andrew Southcott: Ceduna in South Australia has been selected as the first community, and there is strong support locally for the trial. The government is also in advanced discussions with the East Kimberley region in Western Australia for the trial, and there is capacity in the legislation for a third site as well. 

Alan Tudge MP,: I can reassure the members opposite that the trial will last just 12 months unless of course there is a demonstrable improvement and there is a desire for the trial to continue beyond that. The firm intent is that this is a 12-month trial in each particular location. 

The healthy welfare card was Andrew Forrest's idea and enthusiastically agreed to by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

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Southcott: In working with the government, community leaders have nominated 80 per cent as a sensible cashless figure. 

80 per cent of welfare payments quarantined to be spent on the essentials with what's basically a debit card .

Of course Labor supports it otherwise it would not have passed the house.

It now only needs to pass the Senate and be signed off by the Governor General to become a reality.

Jenny Macklin: The new debit card will only ensure that the majority of income support payments cannot be spent on alcohol and gambling products. As such, this card should not be seen as a panacea for all the problems in these communities. It must come accompanied by appropriated wrap-around support services if it is to be successful in tackling complex, multidimensional and intergenerational social problems. 

So, while Prime Minister Turnbull refuses to give any idea on what will happen to his ministry, the government is still implementing Indigenous policies of a past PM.

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We will see some ministers dumped and demoted over the next few days and it's unclear what will happen to the Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister: I'll be making announcements about future ministerial arrangements later. I expect the new ministry, with some changes, to be sworn in on Monday.

"I'll be making announcements about future ministerial arrangements later. I expect the new ministry, with some changes, to be sworn in on Monday"

Nigel Scullion's office did not want to comment on his future or the rise of Prime Minister Turnbull.

Will Nigel Scullion stay? It's a question of Malcolm Turnbull's priorities.

Unfortunately, the Indigenous Affairs portfolio has been treated by many governments over the last few years as a good one to give to a new minister to test their competence.

So, does Prime Minister Turnbull dump Minister Scullion and give the job to a junior or rising politician? No one can match Nigel Scullion's experience.

Some come close, like Alan Tudge or Health Minister Sussan Ley or her Assistant Fiona Nash.

We can only wait to see what happens to the portfolio.