Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Senator Anne Ruston recently discuss the cashless debit card trial to media, when she visits Bundaberg.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Senator Anne Ruston recently discuss the cashless debit card trial to media, when she visits Bundaberg.

QNADA chief executive questions point of card

THE Cashless Debit Card will not stop drug and alcohol addicts, and if that is the case, “what is the point?”.

That is the opinion of the chief executive of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies, Rebecca Lang.

She was in Canberra yesterday when the government introduced legislation into parliament to expand the debit card into the Northern Territory and Cape York.

The card trial date across all sites has been extended to June 30, 2021.

The legislation was introduced the same day the media reported that drug and alcohol use had not declined in Ceduna, South Australia, which first trialled the debit card since February, 2016.

Ms Lang said she did not have the latest figures to see if there had been an increase of Bundaberg people seeking drug treatment at the time the card had rolled out.

However, the debit card could be a good thing if it encouraged more people to seek treatment, which is why more funding for rehabilitation services was important.

She said the card would not stop people from feeding their addiction, she said.

“The very nature of dependence is that it is something that we prioritise above all other things so the idea of someone only using cash to purchase things is a bit of a misnomer,” she said.

“People can be creative and innovative … these sorts of measures work best where people are using because they are bored, but not dependences.”

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the University of Adelaide was compiling a report which would include local drug and alcohol data, due for release later this year.

But he said that Ceduna and Bundaberg were two different communities with different demographics, which meant they could not accurately be compared.

Mr Pitt said the Ceduna trial applied to all welfare recipients except aged pensioners and veterans.

In Hinkler it applied to people under 35 years who were on Newstart, the Parenting Payment, and Youth Allowance.