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Government must reject healthy welfare card after damning income management evaluation

The Australian Greens said today that the Government has no choice other than to abandon plans for a healthy welfare card, with a key income management evaluation showing the scheme has been a comprehensive and expensive failure.

"The Government has at last released the Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory final report, which as expected shows that this wasteful and expensive regime has failed to deliver on its objectives," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"It is obvious why the Government held onto this report for more than two months and ignored my Order for Production of Documents motion in the Senate. The report shows that income management does not deliver on key objectives and in fact entrenches dependence on income support.

"Rather than being a justification for a healthy welfare card, this report shows that the government's commitment to such a flawed approach is driven by nothing more than ideology.

"Communities, experts and service providers have been clear in saying that the top-down, punitive approach doesn't work, and yet successive governments have wasted millions of dollars on income management rather than working with communities to deliver effective programs.

"The Abbott Government is clearly preparing to take things even further, with Minister Andrews even trying to use this report to argue for a higher level of income management - in other words, Twiggy Forrest's healthy welfare card.

"Income management pales into insignificance when compared to the healthy welfare card- it's income management on steroids.

"The draconian approaches of income management and the healthy welfare card fail to address the underlying causes of disadvantage facing communities.

"The Government cannot cherry-pick evidence to try and justify their cruel proposed regime, but that is exactly what they're doing. They should sit down with communities and develop cooperative programs that address local needs and issues.

"Tony Abbott needs to act like the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs he claims to be and start listening to communities, rather than mining billionaires," Senator Siewert concluded.

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