Push for welfare card: 'Children are going hungry'

HUNDREDS of local children are going without food every day because their parents are spending money on things they shouldn't.

That's is the opinion of former Labor Member for Hinkler Brian Courtice who said the introduction of a Cashless Debit Card for some welfare recipients is not about restricting freedom, but making sure children get fed.

Mr Courtice, who served as a Member of Parliament for six years from 1987 to 1993, said he is worried about children in the region.

"Speaking in the last few weeks with education providers and people in welfare it's become clear that every day several hundred children are going to school without a cut lunch or money for the tuckshop," he said.

"The money these people receive is not a right; it's social justice and they don't get a moral right to spend it at the expense of their kids."

Mr Courtice said it is up to the community to make sure children are being properly cared for.

"These people aren't prioritising what they should do," he said.

"They're neglecting their kids to spend money on alcohol, gambling, cigarettes and, in some cases, illegal drugs."

Mr Courtice said with winter here, it is vital that people give thought to whether children are being fed and kept warm.

"This should be trialled in Bundaberg and some of these kids will get a decent meal and get food," he said.

Mr Courtice applauded Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt's efforts, saying while his stance on the card may not be popular, it was the right thing to do.

"Someone needs to stand up and I'm so glad Keith Pitt has the guts to stand up for these kids," he said.

"It is right to defend little kids when they're not getting fed.

"Our children are the most vulnerable in our society. If politicians don't care for the welfare of kids, they care for nothing."

The Cashless Debit Card would see people on some welfare benefits receiving 20% of their pay in cash and 80% on a card which can't be used to buy alcohol, cigarettes or gambling products.