"If the government does a back-flip now ... what message does that send?"HUNDREDS of non-indigenous Territorians are bombarding Centrelink with complaints after having their welfare money "managed".
The Federal Government has extended "quarantining" to all Territorians and now holds back half of all payments. Centrelink uses the money to pay essential bills, such as childcare fees.
Welfare recipients who don't think they should have their fortnightly money managed must make a special case to Centrelink. One woman said: "We have to prove that we're not going to spend all the money on grog and smokes."
A Palmerston mother-of-seven said she was shocked when Centrelink held back half of her $1200 fortnightly payment.
"They are paying my bills," she said. "There will still be money left over when the bills are paid, but I won't get that. It will be kept back in a special kitty."
The mother said she was told she could "buy something useful" - such as a washing machine - when there was enough money in the kitty.
"I've got to go Harvey Norman with a special voucher to buy the washing machine," she said. "That's humiliating."
Another woman said she would lose her car - Centrelink wouldn't meet the repayments because the vehicle is in her boyfriend's name.
Indigenous Territorians have had their welfare money managed for more than a year in a bid to force people to spend their income on essentials, such as food and clothing. Another mother said she knew that many Territorians would not be sympathetic with the welfare recipients.
"They think we're all a load of bludgers," she said. "But we're being told we can't manage our own lives."
A man said he was having his income managed despite the fact that he didn't drink or smoke. Centrelink had not replied to questions by the time the NT News went to press last night.