Editor's note

There’s a growing chorus in the federal government singing the praises of cashless welfare cards. On the weekend the National Party’s federal council voted for a national roll-out of such cards to anyone aged under 35 on the dole or receiving parenting payments. The cards would quarantine 80% of welfare payments from being spent on alcohol, tobacco, gambling or anything that requires cash.

Social Services minister Anne Ruston reckons trials show users love them. But it’s more complicated than that, says Macquarie University anthropologist Eve Vincent, who spent months getting to know participants in the first trial of the cards, in Ceduna, South Australia.

While some didn’t mind the debit card, others told Vincent about feeling insulted and humiliated – emotions compounded by the fact the cards have been tested mostly on Indigenous people. Vincent suggests the claims of Ruston and other senior ministers are out of tune with the evidence.

Tim Wallace

Deputy Editor: Business + Economy

Top story

The grey cashless debit card cannot be used at any alcohol or gambling outlet, nor used to withdraw cash. www.shutterstock.com

‘An insult’ – politicians sing the praises of the cashless welfare card, but those forced to use it disagree

Eve Vincent, Macquarie University

The lived experience of the lead-grey cashless debit card is a world away from the black-and-white impressions of federal politicians.

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has offered to help free three detained Australians in Iran, but the attacks on Saudi oil facilities have made the situation vastly more complicated. Stringer/EPA

As pressure on Iran mounts, there is little room for quiet diplomacy to free detained Australians

Tony Walker, La Trobe University

Iran is being accused of 'hostage diplomacy' by resorting to incarcerating foreign nationals at a time when sanctions are crippling its economy.

A child jumps from a rock outcrop into a lagoon in the low-lying Pacific island of Tuvalu. AAP/Mick Tsikas

The gloves are off: ‘predatory’ climate deniers are a threat to our children

Tim Flannery, University of Melbourne

Climate deniers have joyously laboured to create a world potentially uninhabitable for our children. Our activism has failed, and rebellion may be the only answer.

Cyril Porchet, Swiss born 1984, Untitled 2014 from the series Crowd, inkjet print. 139.0 x 169.0 x 3.5 cm. © Cyril Porchet

Civilization: The Way We Live Now – powerful, troubling photographs of a crowded planet and uncertain future

Sasha Grishin, Australian National University

Many of the world's greatest photographers focus on our shared human experience in a milestone exhibition.

Politics + Society

Environment + Energy

Arts + Culture


Health + Medicine

  • Curious Kids: why are some twins identical and some not?

    Alison McEwen, University of Technology Sydney; Chris Jacobs, University of Technology Sydney

    Interestingly, there are more non-identical twins in Australia now than there have been before. The number of twin pregnancies has grown over the past 30 years.

  • Is vigorous exercise safe during the third trimester of pregnancy?

    Kassia Beetham, Australian Catholic University

    It's normal for expectant mums to worry about how their activities might affect their baby's health. But when it comes to vigorous exercise, the evidence shows there's nothing to worry about.

Business + Economy

Science + Technology



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