Bundy may miss out on cashless card

7th December 2017 8:30 PM
No to the cashless welfare card outside Centrelink Bundaberg. No to the cashless welfare card outside Centrelink Bundaberg. Mike Knott BUN091117CASHLESSCARD

THE Cashless Debit Card rollout in Bundaberg could be over before it begins after Labor ruled out supporting the program due to a lack of consultation.

The Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee handed down its report on Wednesday night, recommending that the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 be passed.

The cards quarantine a large chunk of welfare payments from being spent on alcohol and gambling.

Labor will vote against rolling out cashless debit cards across two new trial sites, including Hinkler.

The opposition will back extending trials at Ceduna in South Australia and the East Kimberley, but says communities in Bundaberg and the WA Goldfields have not been properly consulted.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said it was time Labor stopped playing politics and listen to Hinkler residents and the findings in the report.

"Clearly the Senate committee is supportive of the legislation, so Labor is way off track in opposing any expansion of the Cashless Debit Card,” Mr Pitt said.

"How convenient for Labor to reveal this stance after the Queensland state election when it was happy to sit on the fence.”

But last month, Labor Senator Murray Watt flew into Bundaberg accusing Hinkler MP Keith Pitt of not listening to the community regarding the card.

Mr Pitt has maintained that he held widespread consultation with the Hinkler electorate who he said wanted the card.

"The feedback my office has received shows 75 per cent support for the Cashless Debit Card being introduced,” he said.

"The Hinkler community wants the card, as does the service providers who are at the frontline of support services.”

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin and human services spokeswoman Linda Burney said there was insufficient credible evidence "at this point” to support any more trials of the card.

In Parliament yesterday, Mr Pitt pleaded with crossbenchers, Senators and opposition members who would be deciding the fate of the rollout to come up to Bundaberg and speak to the community.

"It is a very tough policy,” he said.

"I've acknowledged that many times.

"But the people who come into my office, who have been through the consultation process, have said to us over and over and over that they support it.”