Hinkler MP fighting to break ongoing cycle of welfare
THE Cashless Debit Card was never intended to be a silver bullet.
But Federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt believes it is one part of a multi-pronged approach that will help to address the high unemployment rates in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg and break the region's cycle of welfare dependency.
Advice he received from service providers played a vital part in his decision to put his electorate forward as a possible trial site.
"Over a long period of time I received feedback from service providers out there providing help every single day," Mr Pitt said.
"They reported people were utilising social services money on drugs, alcohol and gambling.
"I don't want to see taxpayer support being put into that sort of expenditure.
"This is a step in the right direction."
The card was about accountability to the taxpayers, but was not intended to add to the challenges faced by those on welfare, Mr Pitt said.
"No one is looking to make anyone's life more difficult.
"There is no silver bullet to a very difficult social issue.
"This is just one element in terms of what the government is doing, including job programs, youth pathways and investment in building better regions."
It's early days in the trial that has just been rolled out across the Hinkler electorate.
The program was first unveiled in Ceduna in South Australia and in the East Kimberly region and the Goldfields region in Western Australia.
In those three sites, the program applies to all people of working age who receive a payment.
But in Hinkler, people aged 35 and under who receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (job seeker) and parenting payments have been placed on the card.
Recipients receive 20 per cent of their welfare payment in cash and the rest remains on the Indue card.
When asked why he wanted to have a trial of the card in his electorate, Mr Pitt's answer was simple.
"We have to do something - we can't do nothing," he said.
"To those throwing rocks at the program, I haven't seen anything put forward by them as to how we can address some of these issues."
So far Mr Pitt says he has received a range of feedback regarding the card, all of it anecdotal.
Some individuals have reported having more money left over at the end of a fortnight noting the card had helped them manage their money.
Mr Pitt said while that was positive, he was waiting on the findings from the data that is being collected during the trial.
Some of the arguments against the card had proven to be unfounded, he said.
That included suggestions the introduction of the card would lead to a spike in crime because recipients wouldn't have easy access to cash.
"My understanding is that's just not the case, we've seen substantial decreases in some particular types of crime," Mr Pitt said.
"The police have been very supportive."