RALLY: Opponents at Friday's protest against the Cashless Debit Card in the Bundaberg CBD.
RALLY: Opponents at Friday's protest against the Cashless Debit Card in the Bundaberg CBD.

Residents air cashless card queries at first official meeting

EVERYTHING from waiting on the phone to earning interest came under the microscope at a public meeting about the Cashless Debit Card in Bundy today.

About 50 people turned up to the Civic Centre, where they were split into smaller groups with Department of Social Services staff.

The Federal Government is rolling out the card at two locations, and Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has nominated the electorate as one.

Today was the first official government meeting about the issue since Bundaberg was revealed as a potential site.

A similar meeting will be held at the Hervey Bay Community Centre from 9-11am tomorrow.

Department staff were yesterday keen to clarify what they said was misinformation about the card.

They confirmed:

  • The Cashless Debit Card accounts can be used for direct debits - once arranged with the department.
  • People can instruct the department to increase the cash component of their income to pay their mortgage.
  • The system has loopholes under which participants can access more of their income as cash.
  • Money in the accounts can be rolled over indefinitely - so people can use their cashless component at a later date.
  • If Hinkler is chosen, the scheme would be vastly different to that run at the trial sites.

Department staff emphasised its Cashless Debit Card hotline, which helps people arrange direct debits, mortgage repayments and emergency cash payments, would be staffed so people's calls were answered, by a person, immediately.

It was also confirmed that Cashless Debit Card accounts do not attract interest but participants could make arrangements with the department to put savings into accounts that do.

The department has also created an online portal where people can submit questions until 5pm on August 18.

People can also phone the department on 1800 252 604 or email cashlessdebitcard@dss.gov.au.