Queensland senator ‘disappointed’ at cashless card extension

A QUEENSLAND senator has shared his disappointment at seeing the Cashless Debit Card trial extended in the Hinkler electorate.

Anthony Chisholm, a Labor senator, has been a regular visitor to the region since he was elected.

He spoke in the Senate this week about the decision to extend the trial, which came after the Federal Government was forced to amend its bill that would have made the card permanent in the trial sites.

With that bill set to be voted down, last-minute amendments were made that passed through the senate, extending the trials for two years.

"It was really disappointing to see that the cashless debit card has received an expansion for the next two years," Mr Chisholm said.

"It is something that is again, an ideological pursuit from this government.

"I've spent a lot of time in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, which is part of the trial sites.

"And I know the stigma that it causes.

"I know the mental anguish that it's had on people not being able to go about and live their life. And I've told some of those stories in the Senate last night.

"So, it is disappointing the government are able to get that through, they could not provide any evidence at all, that this trial has actually been a success.

"And that's why there was such strong opposition, it is disappointing that they are able to get a two-year extension through when they haven't proved that the trials currently underway have been successful."

Meanwhile, senator Anne Ruston, Minister Families and Social Services, said the card would continue to support vulnerable people, families and communities following the passage in the Senate of legislation to maintain the program in existing sites.

She said it was a positive step towards easing the social harm caused by problem alcohol, gambling and drug use and provides budgeting assistance and support in communities.

"The continuation of the Cashless Debit Card program is in direct response to calls from community leaders who tell us that it is ensuring more money is being spent on essentials and supporting positive changes," Ms Ruston said.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this program has saved lives and has been a circuit breaker particularly in regions where previous efforts to kerb alcohol abuse had not been successful.

"Our commitment to this program is on a permanent basis.

"But we recognise we have more work to do to in the future to convince the parliament they should support this program on a permanent basis too."