Please Explain podcast: why has the government extended cashless welfare cards?

The cashless debit card will remain a feature of Australian welfare for another two years after the government compromised in its bid to make it permanent.

The scheme quarantines 80 per cent of welfare recipients' payments into an account they can use only at certain shops and cannot use on alcohol, gambling or to get cash.

It’s been on trial since 2016 in some parts of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. After multiple extensions, the trial was due to finish on December 31.

Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff abstained from a series of votes yesterday, giving the government the numbers it needed to pass the bills.

In exchange, the government put a two-year sunset clause on the measure, rather than making it permanent, and said people in the Northern Territory could choose to swap from a different income management program to the cashless card instead of being forced to do so.

In this episode, national editor Tory Maguire and political reporter Katina Curtis delve into the controversy and the reasons the government has temporarily extended the scheme.

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