The government has bypassed parliamentary procedures by pushing controversial legislation to ban cash transactions through the House of Representatives before a new inquiry concludes.
Despite proposals to limit cash transactions over $10,000 being delayed following a committee review in August, authorities are continuing ahead with the plans against advice from the report.
A controversial bill to ban cash payments of $10,000 and impose two-year jail sentences for people using cash for purchases above that limit, has now passed the Lower House.
The new legislation has been rammed through the House of Representatives, despite vocal opposition to the proposed bill from advocacy groups, citizens and legal experts across Australia.
The move follows a recent influx of public submissions in response to the proposed changes, where the bill was announced to be set aside and referred to a committee until February 2020.
This new setback meant the government cannot stick to the original schedule of banning cash transactions from 1 January 2020, as was the initial plan.
Despite the delay, the Australian government has pushed ahead against advice from the initial inquiry, ramming the bill through the House of Representatives before a new review has been completed by the federal committee.
In the debate in parliament, the government faced opposition from some of its own MPs, as well as several lobby groups including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).
A number of politicians speaking before parliament noted significant community opposition, including fears the laws could restrict freedom and give authorities greater control.
Queensland MP Bob Katter opposed the Bill and reiterated his concerns in Parliament that the cash ban bill could breach people’s privacy, citing George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, exploring how Big Brother uses surveillance to control citizens.
Critics argue that once it takes effect, there will be little to stop the threshold from slipping down drastically to $5,000 or $3,000, with lower thresholds already in effect elsewhere in the world.
Passing the House of Representatives is just the first step, however. The next fight will take place in the Senate, which the bill must pass before it becomes law.
In August, a new public consultation revealed that large cash transactions will soon come to an end in Australia, with the Currency (Restrictions of the Use of Cash) Act 2019 set to ban large cash payments made to businesses for goods and services.
Under a radical change to currency laws, it will become a criminal offence to make or accept a payment from businesses in excess of $10,000 cash.
The government said it supported the majority of the recommendations, including potentially requiring wages to be paid into bank accounts, effectively outlawing cash-in-hand payments.
The maximum penalty is up to two years imprisonment and/or $25,200 in fines, and transactions equal or in excess of this amount would need to be made using the electronic payment or by cheque.
Workers in the ‘gig economy’ and other forms of niche industries will also face greater scrutiny.
The government argues a cash limit for transactions between businesses and individuals would help ‘fight the cash’ economy by stamping out tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said he would not be supporting the bill, noting concerns it was about controlling people’s behaviour at a time where many advanced countries were heading towards negative interest rates.
This can potentially lead to a situation where instead of receiving money on deposits, depositors must pay regularly to keep their money with the bank.
Many are worried the plans are a key part of Australia’s ongoing shift towards a cashless society.
CASHLESS SOCIETY BY 2022?
Consumers now have a plethora of convenient payment options available to them, including PayPass and tap and go technology, digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, and wearable technologies such as the Apple Watch, the Inamo Curl and even Visa’s WaveShades.
As a result, recent reports have demonstrated that increasing cashless payments are outperforming continuing declines of cash and cheque at an unprecedented rate.
According to a new report by the Australian Payments Network, the payment industry self-regulatory body, the amount of people paying with cash has dropped from 69 per cent of Australians in 2007 to only 37 per cent in 2016.
Furthermore, research by market analyst East & Partners suggests that if this trend continues, cash payments across Australian businesses are predicted to fall below 5% by 2019 and below 2% by 2022 — creating a virtually cashless society.
This growing consumer preference for digital payments is reflected in a rapid decline in cheque use and ATM withdrawals, which together account for fewer than two million transactions a day.
This is compared with almost 23 million each day in 2018 via the digital economy.
Critics argue the ongoing decline in cash payments is largely fueled by the introduction of these new payment technologies, and will lead Australia to a path of complete financial control.
To prevent this from happening, Australians must continue t voice their opposition to local members, community forums, digital platforms and directly to the inquiry itself.
Australians who have any concerns about the proposed legislation should make submissions to the inquiry being held by the Senate Economics Legislation Committee.
Submissions for that inquiry close on 15 November 2010, and it will report back by 7 February 2020.
Note: This is not the same process conducted in August 2019. It is another submission period.
If you have already made a submission to the first inquiry, you need to make another one to ensure it is also counted. Simply re-use your August submission and submit it to this Senate inquiry.
Plans to limit cash transactions over $10,000 | TOTT News
Cash ban delayed after public backlash | TOTT News
Australia’s move towards a cashless society | TOTT News
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