Hinkler to make up 54% of Aussies trialling cashless card

HINKLER residents will make up more than half of all Australians participating in the Cashless Debit Card trial if an amended bill is passed by Parliament.

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2018 was introduced to the House of Representatives yesterday morning.

The updated legislation expanded the original Cashless Debit Card welfare arrangements to a fourth trial site - the Hinkler electorate.

If passed, the bill will deliver the controversial card to 6700 welfare recipients across Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

The cashless card is already being trialled by 5700 people across Australia.

At least 800 people in South Australia are using the card after the trial was rolled out in the Ceduna region in 2016.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan discussing the Cashless Debit Card rollout for Bundaberg.
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan discussing the Cashless Debit Card rollout for Bundaberg. Jim Alouat

A further 1300 West Australian participants in the East Kimberley region were added to the trial in April 2016.

The most recent region to start a progressive roll-out of the cashless card was the Goldfields region (WA) almost three months ago.

With 3600 people entering the trial, Goldfields is the largest participant so far.

However, should the amended bill go through, 6700 of Hinkler's welfare recipients will be added to the trial, making up more than 54 per cent of the total participants.

Because of this influx, the amended legislation will also increase the maximum number of trial participants allowed from 10,000 to 15,000.

Minister for Veteran's Affairs Dan Tehan during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
The Cashless Debit Card cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products and limits cash withdrawals to 20 per cent of a welfare payment. MICK TSIKAS

Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan said the Cashless Debit Card was "a world first in how it (operated)" and helped people manage their income and stabilise their lives".

"Doing nothing is not an option and I ... ask the Parliament to back this trial ... and help the people of Hinkler help themselves."

The Cashless Debit Card cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products and limits cash withdrawals to 20 per cent of a welfare payment.

If the bill passes, recipients of Newstart, Youth Allowance (Jobseeker) and Parenting Payment living in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions will be subject to the trial.

Participants must be under 36 years old.

In a media statement last week, Mr Tehan confirmed the costs of delivering the cashless debit card trial were projected to be under $2000 per participant once the program was expanded to the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions.

Nationals MP Keith Pitt reacts during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 14, 2018.  (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
MP Keith Pitt said the cashless card would be good for Hinkler. LUKAS COCH

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt yesterday told the NewsMail "this (was) a difficult, but necessary policy which could bring about positive changes in (the) community".

"Doing nothing is not an option and I call on the Labor Party to go back to its initial bi-partisan position and support this trial," he said.

"Welfare is for the necessities of life - rent, bills, food and clothing - not drugs, alcohol or gambling.

"80 per cent of a person's welfare payment is provided on a debit card which will work on any eftpos machine, except for the purchase of alcohol and gambling products.

"The remaining 20 per cent is available as cash."

Businesses do not need to register or sign up for the card.

Independent research into the cashless card has shown positive results at the other trial locations, where less drinking, gambling and drug use has been reported.