The number of people on income management in the East Kimberley has plunged from 1209 when it was compulsory to just 43 - despite the Government spending $166 million on their new scheme. When the Albanese Government scrapped the Cashless Debit Card in September last year saying it unfairly targeted Aboriginal welfare recipients, people at the four trial sites across the country opted out in droves. Secret Department of Social Services documents showed that in the East Kimberley there was an increase in reports of drinking, gambling, stabbings, domestic violence and school non-attendance in the weeks after it was scrapped. Startling figures revealed during a recent Senate estimates that hardly anyone who was on the Cashless Debit Card at the trial sites of the East Kimberley and The Goldfields in WA, Ceduna in SA, and Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland, has moved to the new voluntary SmartCard. Services Australia Income Management General Manager Cathy Toze said the number of SmartCard holders was 43 in the East Kimberley, 43 in The Goldfields, 22 in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, Queensland and 19 in Ceduna, South Australia. Opposition Social Services spokeswoman Senator Anne Ruston questioned spending millions on an income management card that hardly anyone was using. “Have Services Australia expressed any concern or provided any advice about the financial viability or cost-effectiveness of operating a program for 22 people (in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay) or, in the case of Ceduna, 19 people, East Kimberley’s 43 or Goldfields’s 43?” Services Australia CEO Rebecca Skinner said their role was to provide costings nationwide and it was up to a “policy agency,” to use that costing to decide its effectiveness. The Cashless Debit Card quarantined 80 per cent of a person’s welfare payment and prevents them from withdrawing cash or using it to gamble or purchase alcohol. The SmartCard functions similarly but it will also block people from buying tobacco or pornography and now people can use it on the EFTPOS network instead of Visa. About 3,783 people in the Northern Territory and 106 in Cape York remain on the Cashless Debit Card and BasicsCard as they are still compulsory in those areas. Senate Estimates was told Services Australia was allocated $166.3m over this and the next financial year to roll out the SmartCard and maintain other income management schemes around Australia. Ms Ruston said the SmartCard was, “nothing more than the change of a card name.” Labor Minister Don Farrell defended the SmartCard and said by scrapping the Cashless Debit Card they had fulfilled an election promise. “I know you want to try and characterise it as simply a name change, but that isn’t correct. There’s a lot more to it,” he said.